LONDON (AP) _ Former Tory Prime Minister John Major, who led Britain's government from 1990 to 1997, said Friday that he has decided not to run for parliament in the next general election.

In a letter to the Huntingdon Conservative Association, Major, 56, said he had made his decision after ``a great deal of soul-searching and sadness.''

``I would rather go while I am being urged to stay, rather than stay beyond the time when I should go,'' he said.

Major succeeded Margaret Thatcher as prime minister and led Britain's conservatives to victory in the 1992 general election. But following allegations of Tory sleaze and financial corruption, he also led the party to its disastrous defeat in May 1997.

``I have served in parliament for over 20 years and politics has been an important part of my life for far longer, but it is not all my life and it is time to enjoy the many other aspects that have been subordinated over so many years,'' Major said. ``My family has sacrificed much for politics and it is now time for politics to make way.''

Major reportedly has told friends he has not decided what to do professionally after he leaves government.

Tory leader William Hague said the party was saddened to hear of Major's decision.

``As prime minister for seven years, he will be remembered for the golden economic legacy from which we are still benefiting ... and for his tireless efforts and determination to bring peace to Northern Ireland which laid the foundations for the Good Friday Agreement,'' Hague said. ``For these things and many others, the country owes him a considerable debt.''

Keith Stukins, chairman of the Huntingdon Conservative Association, said Major's decision would come as ``an enormous shock'' to members of the constituency.