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Quitting Tory MPs Asked To Stagger Their Announcements

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak surrounded by Conservative MPs after becoming their new leader in 2022 (Alamy)

2 min read

Figures in Conservative Party headquarters have urged Tory MPs to stagger when they announce that they are not standing at the next general election, in order to avoid a deluge of public statements coming out at the same time.

Dozens of Conservative MPs have already confirmed that they will not seek re-election at the next general election, which Prime Minister Rishi Sunak must call this year, and is currently expected to be held in the Autumn.

With more Tories expected to do the same in the coming weeks, CCHQ staff have privately asked that they time their announcements to help the party avoid the unhelpful image of a wave of MPs confirming their exit plans at the same time, PoliticsHome understands.

So far 54 Tory MPs have announced that they will not contest the next general election. They include former Cabinet ministers Sajid Javid and Dominic Raab.

On Tuesday, former chancellor of the exchequer Kwasi Kwarteng became the latest to confirm his plan to depart the House of Commons before polling day arrives.

In a tweet, the MP who delivered Liz Truss' calamitous 2022 mini-budget said: "Yesterday I informed my Association Chair of my decision not to stand at the next General Election. It has been an honour to serve the residents of Spelthorne since 2010, and I shall continue to do so for the remainder of my time in Parliament."

The list of Tories calling it a day is expected to rise as polling day nears, with opinion polls continuing to give Keir Starmer's Labour Party large, double-digit leads over Sunak's Tories.

Sky's poll tracker currently puts the Labour lead at around nineteen per cent, which if replicated at the general election would be expected to result in a large parliamentary majority for Labour. 

One senior Tory predicted that the list would reach the sixties — which would represent the biggest number of Conservative MPs standing down in the run-up to a general election since 1997, when Tony Blair's Labour secured a landslide victory. 

Since the start of this year, Conservative MPs Bob Neill, Oliver Heald, Chris Skidmore and Mike Freer have added their names to the list. Freer, the MP for Finchley and Golders Green, attributed his decision to threats and abuse he had received.

Most of those Tory MPs who have already announced that they will not contest the next general election were elected in 2010, while the average Conservative majority in their constituencies is around 11,500, according to analysis by PoliticsHome.

So far, fifteen Labour MPs have confirmed their plan to stand down before polling day, including Mother of the House” Harriet Harman who has been the MP for Peckham and Camberwell since 1982.

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