‘I have other things I wish to do’: Tory MP Sir John Redwood standing down

A Conservative MP who ran for the party leadership in 1995 has announced he is standing down ahead of the General Election, saying: “I have other things I wish to do.”

Former minister Sir John Redwood, who was first elected in Wokingham in 1987, has decided not to contest his seat on July 4.

He becomes the 71st Tory MP to stand down.

It means the Conservatives are close to a post-war record number of MPs standing down before an election, with the current record standing at 72, the number who quit prior to Sir Tony Blair’s 1997 landslide win.

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Sir John wrote a blog post, reading: “I have decided not to put my name forward in the forthcoming election.

“I have other things I wish to do.

“It has been a privilege to represent Wokingham in nine Parliaments.

“I have drawn many of my campaigns from the views I have heard on doorsteps and read in my email box.

“We have achieved good things together for our local community and the wider nation.

“I was pleased to help local Conservative Council candidates win seats in the recent local elections.

“We stopped the Lib Dems winning a majority despite their forecasts by highlighting the big damage they are doing to our roads, the money they waste, their neglect of public spaces and the way they are worsening our refuse service.”

Countdown to UK general election
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Eurosceptic Sir John, 72, challenged prime minister John Major for the Tory leadership in 1995.

He received just 89 votes to Mr Major’s 219, later being defeated in a second bid for leadership in 1997.

In 2019, he was re-elected as Wokingham MP with a majority of 7,383.

On Thursday, the first day of the General Election campaign, transport minister Huw Merriman and work and pensions minister Jo Churchill announced they are not seeking re-election.

Ms Churchill cited “family reasons” in her resignation letter, saying she had the “utmost respect for the difficult job” of the Prime Minister.

Bexhill and Battle MP Mr Merriman did not specify a reason for his departure but thanked his staff, local Conservative association and the Prime Minister, and paid tribute to his constituency.

A spate of high-profile Tories will not feature on the ballot paper, including former prime minister Theresa May and former chancellor Nadhim Zahawi, who both said they would not run again before the election was called.

Dame Eleanor Laing, the Deputy Commons Speaker who was elected as an MP but relinquished party affiliation to take up her role, and former minister Sir Michael Ellis, are also stepping down.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s decision to call a summer election surprised many in Westminster, who had been expecting an autumn poll.

The news has reportedly caused disquiet among some Tory MPs fearful of losing their jobs, and newspaper reports have suggested Cabinet ministers voiced concerns about the decision.