THE former Devon Tory MP, who quit after admitting watching pornography in the House of Commons, has said he may stand as an independent in the next general election. 

Neil Parish, who served Tiverton and Honiton for 12 years, and before that was a member of the European Parliament, resigned after he was spotted viewing sexually explicit material on a mobile device while waiting to vote. 

Mr Parish said that “Politics is in his blood and he wants voters to decide whether he should return as an MP”.

Because of forthcoming boundary changes, the Tiverton and Honiton constituency will cease to exist but Mr Parish says he will stand in the newly-created Tiverton and Minehead seat if he decides to try again.  

The former MP, who had a majority of more than 24,000 at the last general election, said the circumstances surrounding his resignation last year had met with mixed reactions. 

He explained: “It was a terrible year for me and it’s interesting now to see where I take myself going forward, because I still have very much a public interest in mind with politics in the blood, food, farming environment. 

“I just want to try and keep those things running, if I can, and hopefully do some good.”

However, the 66 year-old, who opposed Brexit and previously served as an MEP, said he was no longer a member of the Conservative Party and had no plans to rejoin.  

“I don’t particularly like the direction on some of the policies.  So, I am just making up my mind now whether to stand for parliament as an independent,” he said. 

Asked which policies he will prioritise if he is re-elected he said: “Naturally, the big issue for Tiverton itself is the new school for Tiverton High School. That’s making progress now, but that needs to be delivered.”

He will also focus on rural issues such as cottage hospitals and food and farming issues.

Mr Parish admits he will face challenges without the backing of a major party but suggests his prior knowledge will stand him in good stead. 

“As an independent, it’s difficult to deliver in parliament, but I have had a lot of experience in parliament.

“But what it does enable you to do is look at policies across the board because I wouldn’t stand to be anti-Tory, anti-Labour, anti-Liberal, anti-Green. 

“I would like to try to put forward a positive message and to see whether people actually wanted that.” 

Mr Parish said the next general election may prove interesting as he feels many people are “looking for something different”.

Responding to critics who have said he should not seek re-election after last year’s revelations, he believes the decision should be in the hands of the electorate. 

“By resigning and then if you stand again, then people can make up their own mind, can’t they? And that’s what democracy’s about,” he said. 

Neil Parish’s resignation triggered a by-election in June last year which was won by Liberal Democrat, Richard Foord with a 6,000 majority. 

Philip Churm