Tory exodus breaks 1997 record as number of MPs standing down hits 77 - including the 'bionic MP' Craig Mackinlay

24 May 2024, 18:48 | Updated: 24 May 2024, 19:22

The Tory exodus has broken the 1997 record after John Major was defeated by Tony Blair.
The Tory exodus has broken the 1997 record after John Major was defeated by Tony Blair. Picture: Alamy/Getty

By Jenny Medlicott

The Tory exodus has broken the 1997 record as the number of MPs standing down at the election has hit 77, including cabinet minister Michael Gove.

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Cabinet minister Michael Gove has become the latest high-profile Tory MP to announce he is standing down ahead of the July 4 election.

The Housing Secretary joined a growing parliamentary exodus as he praised Rishi Sunak for espousing "the very best virtues" of the Tory party but said "it is time to leave".

Mr Gove, who has been MP for Surrey Heath since 2005, said: "I know the toll office can take, as do those closest to me. No-one in politics is a conscript.

"We are volunteers who willingly choose our fate. And the chance to serve is wonderful. But there comes a moment when you know that it is time to leave. That a new generation should lead."

This brings the number of Tory MPs to stand down from parliament this year to 77 - surpassing the record exodus of 1997, when 75 stepped down.

The overall number of MPs standing down in this election has hit 119.

It means that following the General Election there will be a significant number of new faces in the Commons.

However, the overall number of MPs to stand down has not yet broken the 2010 record, which saw 149 stand down - including 100 Labour MPs and 35 Conservatives.

Follow the LBC live General Election blog for all the twists and turns of the campaign train and listen live to LBC on Global Player, our official app

Tory MP Sir David Evennett and the first 'Bionic MP' Craig Mackinlay also announced on Friday afternoon they would not be standing in the election on July 4.

Announcing his departure from parliament on Friday, Sir David who was first elected to parliament in 1983, said: "I believe the Conservative governments of the past 14 years have achieved a great deal for our country and people."

He added however that it was time for a new candidate to take over and pledged to help with campaigning.

Conservative MP Craig Mackinlay said that after nearly losing his life to sepsis he would not be able to ‘withstand the rigours’ of life as a politician.

“Upon being re-elected it would be difficult for me to sustain 70 to 80 hour working weeks which were the norm prior to my illness,” he said in an emotionally charged Facebook post.

It comes after Rishi Sunak signalled earlier on Friday that the door is open for Boris Johnson to hit the campaign trail for the Tories.

Read more: LIVE: Tory MP mass exodus grows as General Election campaigns continue on second day

Read more: ‘Bionic MP’ Craig Mackinlay shares emotional statement and says it will be ‘impossible’ for him to contest seat

The Tory exodus has surpassed the 1997 record with 76 MPs standing down.
The Tory exodus has surpassed the 1997 record with 76 MPs standing down. Picture: Alamy

Asked whether it is time to bring back Mr Johnson, the Prime Minister said he would welcome "any Conservative to come and join the campaign" as he expressed pride in their time working together.

A spokesman for Mr Johnson did not comment on his plans for the campaigning period, telling the PA news agency: "Boris Johnson is, as always, strongly supporting the Conservatives and encourages everybody to do the same."

Elsewhere, Mr Sunak and Sir Keir continued their campaign trails on Friday as the party leaders clashed on energy policy.

Mr Sunak touted the fall in the energy price cap announced by Ofgem on Friday as evidence that his economic plans are working, though Labour said that even with a year-on-year decrease it will still be up £400 on 2021.

Meanwhile, Sir Keir plugged his plans for a publicly owned Great British Energy company, promising it would bring bills down for good and invest in "clean, British power".

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