As pressure mounts on Boris Johnson to leave office – with more ministers resigning from government today than have ever done before in a single day – Mr Higginbotham said he could no longer “in good conscience continue supporting the current leader of my party”.
He said: “The decision I have taken today is incredibly difficult. But it's only right that I let residents know my view. I've always been upfront with people and today is no different...
“When I stood to be your MP I did so because I had a vision, and a desire, to see a better Burnley and Padiham. One where we did things differently to make sure that people across our borough had the same opportunities as anywhere else within the UK; to make life better for you, your family and friends; and where the focus of government moved towards places like ours. Because I thought we had been left behind for too long.
“Nobody could have predicted what has happened over the last 2 and a half years and all the challenges that we have faced. Dealing with a deadly pandemic, a war on the European continent, and now a rising cost of living. It has been anything but an easy period.
“But despite all of this, we’ve made significant progress. We broke the Brexit deadlock, introduced a points-based immigration system, toughened sentences for violent criminals and moved to implement policies which command widespread support from residents. All the while delivering improvements for our borough. The successful bid for £20 million out of the Levelling Up Fund or the ability to progress with Pioneer Place stand as two big examples.
"Because in all my work the focus has remained the same. To deliver improvements for residents in every area of life.
“But, sadly, that focus has become increasingly difficult to maintain as all the talk moves towards the Prime Minister and his conduct.
“As many will be aware, I’ve stood by the PM. Because from speaking with him I know that he too shares the vision that we can and must make improvements in northern towns like ours. And we have seen huge progress in our mission as a result.
“But our historic win in 2019, and delivering for our borough, is about more than one person. We have, for many months now, given the benefit of the doubt to the Prime Minister. And privately I and others have been pushing for changes in policy and approach. It has become clear we can no longer work on this basis.
“Loyalty matters. But as the Member of Parliament for Burnley and Padiham my first loyalty is, and always will be, to you the public.
“It’s for that reason that I can no longer in good conscience continue supporting the current leader of my party.
“There will be some who agree with this position. And some who disagree. I hope, however, that all residents know that this is not a decision I came to easily. Nor should it have been. As I said earlier this month, changing the leader of our country is a monumental decision. But it is a decision I feel we must now make if we are to continue improving lives and livelihoods locally.
“Any resident who wishes to discuss this with me is, as ever, welcome to contact me.”