FORMER chancellor Philip Hammond has announced he will not be running in the upcoming General Election.

Hammond served in Theresa May's Cabinet and was a vocal critic of Boris Johnson's approach to Brexit.

After voting against the Prime Minister's Brexit deal, he and 21 other rebel Tory MPs had the whip removed.

Ten of the rebels have since had it reinstated, but Hammond was not one of them.

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He has represented Runnymede and Weybridge at Westminster since 1997.

The former chancellor tweeted: "It is with great sadness that I am today announcing my decision to stand down as Member of Parliament for Runnymede & Weybridge at the forthcoming General Election."

In a letter to his constituents, Hammond said that having represented them for 22 years it is "not a decision I have taken lightly".

He said the withdrawal of the whip means he is unable to stand as a Tory candidate in the December 12 election.

"If I fight the General Election as an Independent conservative candidate against an official Conservative Party candidate, I would cease to be a member of the party.

"I am saddened to find myself in this position after 45 years of Conservative Party membership, 22 years' service as a Conservative MP, 12 years as an opposition front-bench spokesman and over 9 years as a Cabinet minister, including service as defence secretary, foreign secretary and chancellor of the exchequer," he wrote.

Hammond continued: "The Conservative Party that I have served has always had room for a wide range of opinions and has been tolerant of measured dissent.

"Many parliamentary colleagues have defied the party whip on occasion without any action being taken against them.

"But however aggrieved I feel at the loss of the whip, and however strongly I believe that we must deliver Brexit through a comprehensive trade agreement with the EU to protect British jobs and prosperity, I remain a Conservative and I cannot, therefore, embark upon a course of action that would represent a direct challenge in a General Election to the party I have supported all my adult life."

Hammond said he will remain an active party member and will continue to make the case for doing whatever is necessary to deliver a trade and security partnership between the UK and the EU.

He highlighted his intention to "seek to promote a widening of Conservative Party membership" to include more younger business and professional people who "support out long-established core values, to help to ensure that the Conservative Party of the future is a broad-based, forward-looking pro-business and pro-markets centre-right party".

He thanked the people of Runnymede and Weybridge, writing: "It has been a pleasure to serve you and I wish you all every good fortune for the future. I shall miss you greatly."