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The Independent UK
The Independent UK
Matt Mathers and Andy Gregory

Mapped: All the MPs standing down at general election as Michael Gove and John Redwood join the exodus

Getty Images/iStockphoto

The UK will go to the polls in July after Rishi Sunak announced the date for the next general election – but scores of high-profile MPs will not be facing the electorate after deciding to stand down.

Housing secretary Michael Gove and former business secretary Andrea Leadsom became the latest Tory MPs to announce they would not contest the next election, as the number of Conservative MPs deciding to stand aside hit a new post-war record. In his letter to constituents, Mr Gove cited the “toll” of public office as he said it was time to let “a new generation lead” following a political career spanning nearly 20 years.

As of 25 May, more than 120 MPs have said publicly they were either standing down from parliament or not contesting their seat at the general election. Some 78 out of those were Conservative – a record number for the party. Veteran Tory MP John Redwood - notorious for once mumbling his way through the Welsh national anthem - also joined the list on Friday.

Michael Gove has announced he will not be standing at the General Election (Jordan Pettitt/PA) (PA Wire)

Former prime minister Theresa May announced in March she would not stand again. In her farewell speech to parliament, the former PM urged remaining MPs to “remember the importance of our democracy”, to “be a voice for the voiceless” and warned that “their job here is not to advance themselves but to serve the people who elected them”.

Nadhim Zahawi, the former chancellor, education secretary and Conservative Party chairman, stood down in May, saying the time is right for a “new, energetic Conservative to take over”. Alok Sharma, the former Cop26 president, has also announced he would stand down at the next general election, saying it had been the “honour” of his life to have served as an MP.

Mr Sharma, who represents Reading West, previously held the business secretary brief.

Sajid Javid, the former chancellor, Dominic Raab, the ex-deputy prime minister and Ben Wallace, the former defence secretary – all of whom were at one time touted as potential future Tory leaders - were among the other big-name Conservatives who have called it a day as their party struggles in the polls.

Former PM Theresa May said in March that she would stand down (Hannah McKay/PA) (PA Wire)

Mr Sharma and Mr Raab, who resigned from his cabinet position following a slew of bullying allegations which he denied, would have been defending majorities of fewer than 5,000 had they stayed on to fight the next election.

Most MPs walking away from politics are Conservatives, which is unsurprising given they are the biggest party, winning 365 seats in the 2019 election.

According to the Institute for Government, the 2010 election saw nearly 150 MPs stand down, mainly from the Labour Party, which had been in power since 1997.

Sajid Javid is among the high profile figures stepping down (REUTERS)

Some MPs announced they were standing down in response to the expenses scandal of the same year.

Harriet Harman, the former Labour leader, Margaret Beckett, the former foreign secretary, and Ben Bradshaw, the former culture secretary, are among some of the high-profile Labour MPs standing down.

The Conservative Party is on course for a heavy defeat at the next election, according to most opinion polls.

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