The former Tory deputy chairman tweeted a link to a statement on his website in which he said that his new interests meant that he could not devote enough time to the Lords.
But the multimillionaire, whose influence has been growing at Westminster over the past year with the publication of his weekly Lord Ashcroft Polls, indicated that he would keep his title. Under the House of Lords Reform Act 2014, peers retain their titles when they resign from the upper house. He tweeted: “Retired Lords keep their title and can use the facilities of the house should they wish to.”
Ashcroft’s decision to resign from the Lords means he could revive his non-domiciled tax status. Holders of this status do not pay tax on earnings abroad in the UK. The peer announced in 2010 that he would abandon his “non-dom” status to comply with new House of Lords rules, which prevent non-doms from sitting in the upper house.
In his statement, Ashcroft said: “Earlier this year Baroness D’Souza, the Lord Speaker, said that any member of the House of Lords who can ‘no longer contribute meaningfully’ should retire. She added that since the house has close to 800 members, ‘retirement at the right time should be seen as a condition of membership of the House of Lords – a duty as well as a right’.
“I agree with the Speaker, and have concluded that my other activities do not permit me to devote the time that membership of the Lords properly requires. Accordingly, I have today written to the clerk of the parliaments giving notice of my resignation from the House of Lords with immediate effect, pursuant to section 1(1) of the House of Lords Reform Act 2014.
“I will continue my involvement in politics through Lord Ashcroft Polls and my political publishing interests: ConservativeHome, Biteback Publishing and Dods.”
Ashcroft has become increasingly detached from the Conservative party in recent years. He has poor relations with David Cameron and now regards himself as being above the party political fray as a pollster and publisher.
This article was written by Nicholas Watt, for theguardian.com on Tuesday 31st March 2015 16.59 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010