Former Cabinet minister Sajid Javid has become the most prominent Tory MP yet to announce he is stepping back at the next general election, shortly after the party was stung by another mid-term defeat.
The ex-chancellor and health secretary did not give a reason for his exit, saying only that he had “wrestled” with the choice for “some time”, and pledged to continue to support the Prime Minister “in any way I can”.
He joins a steady stream of Tory colleagues saying they will not run at the next vote, which will be no later than January 2025, including Chloe Smith, William Wragg and rising star Dehenna Davison.
Former business secretary Jacob Rees-Mogg warned against “drawing too much” from the “relatively small” number of Conservatives taking their leave from the political stage.
He also said he does not anticipate a greater risk of rebellion from those opting to step down at the next general election.
“If you’ve had a successful career in Parliament and now you’re drawing it to a close, I would have thought your natural default position would be to be loyal and not to cause trouble,” he told BBC Radio 4’s World At One programme.
Fellow senior Tory Alicia Kearns told World At One she expects to see “significant change to the makeup of Parliament” following the next vote, but rejected the idea that colleagues are staring at the opposition benches wishing for a new job.
Mr Javid, who also previously served in the prominent Cabinet role of home secretary, said he was “very proud” of his work in Parliament and Government.
He said the decision would not mark the end of his parliamentary activity, particularly for those causes he cares about “deeply”, nor will it impact his current duties as an MP.
He will continue to support Mr Sunak in any way possible, he added.
The Prime Minister paid tribute to his “good friend”, with whom he shares a love of Star Wars, by saying: “May the Force be with you, Saj.”
“Sad to see my good friend @sajidjavid stepping back from politics,” he tweeted.
“He’s been a proud champion of enterprise and opportunity during his time in Government and on the backbenches – particularly for the people of Bromsgrove.”
In a letter to the Bromsgrove Conservative Association, Mr Javid wrote: “Being the local MP and serving in government has been the privilege of my life and I am immensely grateful for the opportunity to serve.
“I always sought to make decisions in the national interest and in line with my values, and I can only hope my best was sufficient.
“I will of course continue to support my friend the Prime Minister and the people of Bromsgrove in any way I can.”
His announcement came shortly after the Tories suffered a mid-term defeat in the City of Chester by-election, in Mr Sunak’s first electoral test in the top job.
Sir Keir Starmer hailed the victory for Labour, claiming it demonstrates the public are “fed up” with the current Government.
Mr Javid has had an extensive career in Government, serving in six cabinet roles, and becoming the first British Asian to hold one of the great offices of state.
He has also put himself forward for the Tory leadership twice, most recently over the summer, when he bowed out of the contest after apparently failing to garner enough support from fellow MPs.
It was his sensational resignation from Boris Johnson’s cabinet, together with Mr Sunak’s, that spelled the beginning of the end for the former prime minister’s premiership.
And that was not the first time he had quit the Government: he left his chancellor role abruptly in 2020 after being told he must sack all his advisers if he wished to keep his job.
Mr Javid is the son of a bus driver who arrived in England from Pakistan in the 1960s with just a pound in his pocket.
Born in Rochdale and raised in Bristol, he went to a state school and studied economics and politics at Exeter University.
He left behind a career in finance to become Bromsgrove’s MP.