Tim Loughton becomes latest MP to stand down at next election in Tory exodus

Tim Loughton has become the latest Conservative MP to announce that they will stand down at the next general election.

The veteran backbencher, who has represented East Worthing & Shoreham since 1997, said it was “wiser to leave five minutes too soon than to continue for five years too long”.

The former children’s minister, who served in Lord David Cameron’s government, joins an exodus of Tories planning to quit Parliament.

Some 64 Conservative MPs have now announced they are either standing down from the Commons or not seeking re-election in their current constituencies at the next election.

And he becomes the 100th MP to have announced that they are standing down at the next general election.

In a letter to his local Conservative association, Mr Loughton said: “It has been a great honour to have served as the Member of Parliament for the newly created East Worthing and Shoreham constituency since 1997.

“With the help of a fantastic local party association, we have fought seven general elections successfully.

“By the time of the next one I will have spent more than 27 years in Parliament. After much reflection I have decided now is the right time for me to move on and hand over to someone new.

“As former Cabinet Minister John Biffen appropriately put it: ‘In politics I think it is wiser to leave five minutes too soon than to continue for five years too long’.”

Mr Loughton has been a prominent voice on the Conservative back benches, serving as deputy chairman of the Home Affairs Select Committee, as well as being among the most outspoken parliamentarians on China.

He was sanctioned by Beijing in 2021 and has repeatedly urged the Government to take a stronger line towards the increasingly assertive Asian power.

In his letter on Saturday, the MP said he had “no intention of taking my foot off the pedal and will continue to represent my constituents to the utmost.”

“I have no intention of remaining anything other than totally focused on supporting our excellent and under-appreciated Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, and the interests of my East Worthing constituents in the House of Commons in my remaining months there,” he said.

Father of the House Sir Peter Bottomley, the MP for neighbouring Worthing West, said he hoped “people like Tim will continue to volunteer for the ups and downs of public and political service”.

“He could have progressed to Minister of State and he has had the skills, energy and talent to be a good member of the Cabinet. I wish that had happened,” Sir Peter said.

“Political service, journalism and active military service and punctuated by chance. Not everything is merit or merited.”

Mr Loughton won East Worthing and Shoreham by 7,424 in 2019, but whoever replaces him will face a challenge in holding the seat this year.

Constituencies with bigger Tory majorities have turned red in recent by-elections as the ruling party languishes behind Labour in opinion polls this year.

Of the 100 MPs to say they are quitting, 95 have confirmed they are retiring from the House of Commons.

The remaining five MPs have said they will not be standing for re-election in their current constituency, but have not yet ruled out putting themselves forward as a candidate in a new seat.