Cameron resigns as MP to avoid becoming a 'distraction' for May
Former British Prime Minister David Cameron last night quit as an MP saying that he did not want his disagreements with Theresa May to become a "distraction", amid a growing row over grammar schools.
Mr Cameron stepped down with immediate effect yesterday despite previously indicating he would stay on as a backbencher until 2020.
He announced his resignation minutes before Justine Greening, the Education Secretary, was due to make a statement on grammar schools.
The plans are highly controversial and, Mr Cameron's objections aside, sources suggested Mrs May is facing rebellion from up to 40 MPs.
Mr Cameron denied that the decision was linked to grammar schools, insisting the timing was "coincidental".
However, allies said it was "almost inconceivable" that he could have voted for the plans if he had remained an MP. Just months after becoming Tory leader in December 2005, Mr Cameron described the prospect of bringing back grammar schools as "wrong".
Allies said that he did not want to be seen as a "back-seat driver" and that anything he said as a backbencher "would be seen as slavish or scheming".
Another source said he did not want to become "another Ted Heath", who remained an MP and attacked Margaret Thatcher after she ousted him in 1975.
However, one source said that Mr Cameron "will have been seething" in recent weeks as he watched Mrs May distance herself from much of what he achieved in government.
Mr Cameron told ITV: "I spoke to Theresa May and she was very understanding about this decision. I support her and I support what she's doing. I think she's got off to a cracking start.
"Obviously I have my own views about certain issues. People know that.
"That's really the point. As a former PM it's very difficult to sit as a back bencher and not be an enormous diversion and distraction."
Mrs May said she was "proud to have served" in Mr Cameron's government and under his leadership "we achieved great things not just stabilising the economy but also making great strides on delivering serious social reform".
It is underestood that up to 40 Tory MPs have concerns about Mrs May's grammar schools policy.
Theresa Villiers and Anna Soubry became the latest former ministers to criticise the plans yesterday.
Nicky Morgan, whom Mrs May sacked as education secretary, has warned that the Government, which has a slender majority faced a "real challenge" to win a vote on lifting the ban on new grammar schools.
There was speculation last night that Mr Cameron will now take up a lucrative post on a company board.
However, allies said he would either take a significant international job or do something in Britain focused on his "life chances" agenda.
A source said: "He feels he can be far more use representing causes close to his heart."