Louise Mensch is to stand down as MP for Corby and East Northamptonshire. Photograph: PA
Louise Mensch, possibly the most well-known Conservative backbencher, has resigned as MP for Corby and East Northamptonshire, citing the difficulties of trying to balance her family life with political commitments.
Mensch and her three children will move to New York to live with her husband, Peter Mensch,
who is based in the city where he works as manager of Metallica, Jimmy Page and the Red Hot Chili Peppers. She married him last year after her first marriage broke down.
Mensch said every effort had been made to ensure she could stay in her role, but she had ultimately made the decision to ensure the welfare of her family.
"I am completely devastated. It´s been unbelievably difficult to manage family life," she said. "We have been trying to find a way forward with the prime minister´s office but I just can´t spend as much time with my children as I want to."
Mensch said she had planned to move after the next election in 2015 but was concerned that her children would be too settled in east Northamptonshire by then and it would be unfair to uproot them.
Instead, she has decided to quit and a byelection will be held on 15 November, at the same time as the police commissioner elections.
Labour will be desperate to win back the seat it held for 13 years until Mensch won it with a majority of 1,951 in 2010. The Liberal Democrats came third with 7,800 votes, and it is likely to see its vote squeezed.
The Conservatives´ London mayor, Boris Johnson, ruled himself out as a candidate saying he was happy serving as mayor for "the greatest city in the world".
The current Labour candidate Andy Sawford said: "Louise Mensch was obviously struggling to balance being MP for Corby and East Northamptonshire with her family and business commitments. I respect her for the honest way she talked about this and her decision to step down.
"During the byelection we will focus on the two wasted years of Tory policies that have taken the country back into recession and left Corby suffering job losses in both the public and private sector."
Mensch, one of Cameron´s A-list, fast-track candidates, denied she had become disillusioned with constituency politics. "I love Corby and East Northamptonshire but my family has to come first. When I took the post I was in a different position but sometimes life throws you a curve ball that you didn´t expect.
"We are now going to be moving out to New York as a family. Every family is different and another mother might feel she can manage things."
The author recently launched her own social networking site menschn.com, as a rival to Twitter where she has 100,000 followers. She is now expected to focus on building the popularity of the site.
Mensch has been a ubiquitous defender of the government record on Twitter and in TV studios, notably backing the culture secretary, Jeremy Hunt, over his handling of News Corporation´s bid for the satellite broadcaster BSkyB.
During cross-examinations of News Corp boss, Rupert Murdoch, by the culture, media and sport select committee, of which she was a member, Mensch left early saying she needed to collect her children.
In her resignation letter, Mensch thanked David Cameron for his support, but said she had "been struggling for some time to find the best outcome for my family life, and have decided, in order to keep us together, to move to New York".
She continued: "It has been an honour to serve the people of Corby and East Northamptonshire. Whether it has been supporting Corby´s new free school, or fighting for the truth on the Cube overspend and land development deals, or striving to protect the East Northamptonshire countryside, in my work as the local MP I have always been struck, as I said in my maiden speech, by the pride people have in our area."
She told Cameron: "It is only through your personal intervention, delivered quietly and without fanfare, that I have been able to manage my duties for this long. Your allowing me to work in Corby and East Northamptonshire each Thursday and Friday has enabled me to do weekly surgeries while parliament has been in session, and to visit many more people and places around our local area, whilst still spending time with my children. Unfortunately, it has not proved to be enough."
In the prime minister´s reply, he said it was with "enormous regret that I accept your resignation as the member of parliament for Corby and East Northamptonshire, a seat that had been Labour for 13 years before you. I do so only because I wish to support you in acting in the best interests of your family, which must come first."