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Mapped: All the MPs standing down at the next election

 (Getty Images/iStockphoto)
(Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Robert Halfon has become the latest Conservative MP to announce he will not stand at the next general election.

The skills, apprenticeships and higher education minister unexpectedly quit at the same time as James Heappey followed through on his intention to step down as armed forces minister.

Mr Halfon, a veteran MP for Harlow, had served in a series of senior roles since first being elected to Parliament in 2010.

He said in a letter to Rishi Sunak: “After well over two decades as the Harlow Parliamentary Candidate and as MP, I feel that it is time for me to step down at the forthcoming general election, and in doing so, to resign as a minister in your Government.”

Robert Halfon and James Heappey have both resigned from government ((PA))
Robert Halfon and James Heappey have both resigned from government ((PA))

Mr Heappey, who represents Wells, had reportedly been on “resignation watch” from his ministerial role after telling colleagues privately that he was unhappy about the level of defence spending.

The former soldier issued a departing plea last week for the defence spending target of 2.5 per cent of GDP to be “achieved urgently”.

Mr Heappey, who would have been defending a majority of 9,991,  joins a growing number of Conservative MPs deciding to quit politics, including several high-profile ex-cabinet secretaries and other ministers.

As of 26 March, 63 Conservative MPs have said publicly they are either standing down from Parliament or not contesting their current seat at the general election.

Former prime minister Theresa May announced she would quit earlier in March, becoming the most high-profile departing MP since Boris Johnson resigned after being found guilty of misleading MPs over the Partygate scandal.

Tory former prime minister Theresa May (Hannah McKay/PA) (PA Wire)
Tory former prime minister Theresa May (Hannah McKay/PA) (PA Wire)

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

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 votes at the next national poll.

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

According to the Institute for Government, the 2010 election saw more than 100 MPs stand down, mainly from the Labour Party, which had been in power since 1997.

Some MPs also announced they were standing down after the expenses scandal the same year.

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

Of all the 99 MPs standing down ahead of the next national poll - which must take place by January 2025 - 63 are Conservatives, according to the House of Commons Library.

Harriet Harman, the former Labour leader, Margaret Beckett, the former foreign secretary, and Ben Bradshaw, the former culture secretary, are among the 17 Labour MPs standing down.

Nine SNP MPs, six independents - including former health secretary Matt Hancock - one Green, one Plaid Cymru and two Sin Feinn MPs have also decided to call it a day.

Of the six independents, three - Mr Hancock, Crispin Blunt and Julian Knight - were Conservatives before they had the whip withdrawn. The three others - Conor McGinn, Bob Stewart and Nick Brown - were previously Labour MPs.

The Conservative Party is on course for a heavy defeat at the next election, according to most surveys. The opposition has also narrowed the gap in Scotland where the SNP has dominated politics since coming to power north of the border in 2007.