Matt Hancock Will Not Stand To Be a Conservative MP At The Next Election
Matt Hancock has confirmed he will not stand again at the next election after losing the Tory party whip (Alamy)
Former Health Secretary Matt Hancock has confirmed he does not intend to stand to be a Conservative MP at the next general election.
The Newmarket MP lost the Tory whip last month after agreeing to appear on the reality TV show “I’m A Celebrity... Get Me Out Of Here!” without the party’s approval. He has since returned to the Commons but now sits as an independent member of Parliament.
In a letter to prime minister Rishi Sunak, posted to Twitter, Hancock wrote that it had been a "huge honour to serve as a member of parliament for West Suffolk for the past twelve years".
Hancock appeared to suggest the chief whip had been be willing to restore the Conservative whip in "due course", but that such a move "is now not necessary”. There has been no confirmation from the Tory party that this was the case.
Earlier today the prime minister’s official spokesperson said it was "a question for the Whip’s office" whether Hancock’s suspension as a Tory had been lifted.
While Hancock confirmed that he does "not intend to stand for the Conservatives at the next election", he did not explicitly rule out standing as an independent.
He did, however, conclude that he "will play my part in the debate about the future of our country and engage with the public in new ways".
He sais he was "very proud of what we achieved, including the establishment of three Free Schools, dualling of the A11, supporting the horseracing industry, and expanding Newmarket Hospital".
Hancock added: “I will of course continue to represent all my constituents between now and the next election.”
The former health secretary resigned from his position in Boris Johnson's cabinet in disgrace last year after he was found to be breaking his own Covid rules while having an affair with an aide.
Hancock becomes the latest prominent Conservative MP to announce they will be quitting the Commons at the next election, after a number of high-profile Tories such as ex-Chancellor Sajid Javid confirmed they will not seek re-election when the country next goes to the polls, expected in 2024.
He spent nine years in Government, including stints in a number of departments as a junior minister, before entering the Cabinet as Culture Secretary in early 2018. He succeeded Jeremy Hunt as Health Secretary later that year under Theresa May.
When May was replaced as prime minister by Boris Johnson in 2019, Hancock was kept in post as health secretary, where he rose to prominence as one of the most visible members of the government’s response to the coronavirus epidemic.
In today's letter, Hancock hinted that he could choose a career away from party politics, and suggested that the Conservatives had become remote from their voters.
"The Conservative Party must now reconnect with the public we serve," he wrote.
“There was a time when I thought the only way to influence the public debate was in Parliament, but I've realised there's far more to it than that.
"I have increasingly come to believe that for a healthy democracy we must find new ways to reach people – especially those who are disengaged with politics.
“The revival of modern conservatism over the next decade will I suspect take place as much outside Parliament as in it.”
There is speculation that the 44-year-old wants to forge a career in entertainment after he reached third place in his recent ITV reality show appearance.
“I have discovered a whole new world of possibilities which I am excited to explore - new ways for me to communicate with people of all ages and from all backgrounds," he added.
“I look forward to championing the issues that are dear to my heart, including better support for dyslexic children who get a raw deal from the education system."
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