Two more Conservative MPs have announced they will not stand for re-election, joining a slew of senior Tories and rising stars to detail their exit plans amid a polling slump.
Former minister Sir Paul Beresford, an MP since 1992, told constituents he would be retiring at the next election.
Stevenage MP Stephen McPartland, who first won his seat in 2010, told Rishi Sunak in a letter that “after much soul-searching, I have decided not to seek reselection in order to take up new opportunities outside of politics”.
Their moves come as the Prime Minister struggles to recover from dire national opinion polling for the Tories, which puts Sir Keir Starmer’s Labour Party around 20 points ahead.
Mole Valley MP Sir Paul said he would not contest the new seat created by boundary changes by the time of the next election, due by January 2025.
“After a career in frontline politics which began in local government in 1978, and which has seen me represent Mole Valley in Parliament since 1997, I have decided – after a great deal of thought – not to contest the new Dorking and Horley seat and instead retire at the next general election,” the 76-year-old wrote in an email to constituents.
His majority over the Liberal Democrats in 2019 was 12,041.
The veteran backbencher, a practising dentist, first represented Croydon Central before switching to Mole Valley in Surrey in 1997.
A council leader before entering the House of Commons, Sir Paul served as a junior minister in Sir John Major’s government and chaired the Commons Administration Committee in 2017-19.
He retained the seat with an 8,562 majority in 2019.
Mr McPartland was briefly a security minister in Boris Johnson’s caretaker government as his premiership unravelled, and served as chair of the Regulatory Reform Select Committee.
He was recently the only Tory MP to vote against the Government on the Strikes (Minimum Service Levels) Bill at second reading, describing it as a “shameful Bill” that does “nothing to stop strikes”.
Announcing his departure, the 46-year-old tweeted: “I will always support @Conservatives as the party that gave a working class kid from Brixton the opportunity to become Prime Minister.”
A string of senior Tories also plan to exit Westminster, including former chancellor Sajid Javid, Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross and former environment secretary George Eustice.
Former health secretary Matt Hancock, who was a Conservative until he lost the whip over his I’m A Celebrity appearance, and Dehenna Davison, seen as a rising star in the Tory party, will also be quitting the Commons.