david cameron.jpg
Photograph: EPA/ANDY RAIN

Former British prime minister David Cameron on Monday said he has decided to resign from his seat in parliament to remove a potential "distraction" for his successor as national leader, Theresa May.

"In my view, in modern politics with the circumstances of my resignation [as prime minister], it isn't really possible to be a proper backbench MP as a former prime minister," Cameron told the BBC and other media.

"I've thought about this long and hard over the summer and I've decided the right thing to do is to resign," he said.

"I think everything you do will become a big distraction and a big diversion from what the government needs to do for our country."

Cameron, 49, has been the member of parliament for the southern English constituency of Witney in Oxfordshire since 2001 and had served as prime minister from 2010 until July.

"I was proud to serve in David Cameron's government - and under his leadership we achieved great things," May said in a statement via Facebook.

"Not just stabilizing the economy, but also making great strides in delivering serious social reform," she said.

"His commitment to lead a 'one nation' government is one that I will continue, and I thank him for everything he has done for the Conservative Party and the country."

Cameron gave no details of his future plans but said he hopes to "continue to contribute in public service."

He promised to continue supporting May, who has "got off to a cracking start" since she became the nation's leader in July.

But some analysts said his comments and the timing of Monday's announcement were coded criticism of May's policies, such as her plan to reintroduce more selective state schools, or grammar schools.

The ruling Conservative Party elected May to lead the country after Cameron resigned following his failed campaign to persuade voters to remain in the European Union in Britain's Brexit referendum.

Reacting on Twitter to Monday's news, former chancellor George Osborne said it was a "sad day."

"Sorry to see my great friend David Cameron stepping down," Osborne said. "He loved being Witney's MP; I know how difficult this decision has been for him."

"We came into parliament together, had a great partnership, and I will miss him alongside me on the green benches [of parliament] over the coming years," he said.

Osborne was left out of May's new cabinet but remains a member of parliament.

Cameron is the son of a stockbroker father and a magistrate mother.

He was educated at the elite private school Eton and at Oxford University, prompting the BBC to describe him once as "straight out of the Establishment top drawer."

Cameron lives with his wife Sam and their three children in the London's trendy Notting Hill area and in rural Oxfordshire.

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