Now Gove and Leadsom quit: Tory exodus continues as number of MPs to stand down hits 78 piling pressure on Sunak

25 May 2024, 00:26 | Updated: 25 May 2024, 00:30

Iain Dale reacts to Michael Gove news

Kieran Kelly

By Kieran Kelly

Senior Tories Michael Gove and Andrea Leadsom have become the latest Tory MPs to stand down before the upcoming General Election.

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They become the 77th and 78th Tory MPs to announce they will step down before the upcoming election - more than the 72 in 1997 when Labour stormed to victory under Tony Blair.

"As a child in Aberdeen I could never have imagined I would have the opportunity to sit in the Commons, let along the cabinet table," Mr Gove said on Friday evening.

"That four prime ministers asked me to serve the country in their governments has been the honour of my life."

It comes as The Guardian reports that Rishi Sunak is planning to take a day off his election campaign to discuss plans with his aides.

Read More: Is my MP standing down? Full list of current MPs quitting their seats ahead of General Election

Mr Gove explained that his time in office had taken a toll on his personal life, saying: "There comes a moment when you know that it is time to leave."

Mr Gove went on: "Although I have undoubtedly made mistakes, I have always tried to be a voice for those who have been overlooked and undervalued."

"I have been privileged to work with many brilliant ministerial colleagues. I am grateful to them, as I am to so many superb officials and advisers who supported me to my fantastic Surrey Heath team," he added.

Last year, Michael Gove sat down with Andy Coulson for an episode of Global's podcast Crisis What Crisis? Listen to the episode on Global Player.

Meanwhile, Dame Andrea, who ran against Theresa May in the Tory leadership race, said she will "continue to support the Conservative Party through this general election".

In a letter to Prime Minister posted on X, the former Commons leader said she had come to the decision after "careful reflection" but did not go into detail about her reasons for quitting.

Addressing Mr Sunak, the health minister said: "I would like to thank you for your faith in giving me the responsibility as Minister for Start for Life, Primary Care and Public Health."

She added: "I will continue to support the Conservative Party through this General Election and in the future as the party best aligned with the ideals and values of the people of the United Kingdom."

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

Read More: Starmer says he's 'not dodging' General Election debates with Sunak after PM says Labour leader 'lacks courage'

It comes after Tory MP Sir David Evennett announced on Friday afternoon that he will not be standing in the election on July 4 - breaking the 1997 record of 75.

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

Michael Gove on being fired by Boris, battling with The Blob and the day he almost quit politics.

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.

Michael Gove
Michael Gove. Picture: Getty

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.

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.

Meanwhile, the Conservative MP who lost his limbs to sepsis will not run for his seat in the upcoming general election, he revealed today as he shared an emotional statement about his hopes for the future.

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

Conservative MP Craig Mackinlay said that after nearly losing his life to the condition 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.

Mr Mackinlay wrote: “The snap election announcement has caused me 36 hrs of intense soul searching.

“Whilst my heart tells me to stand again, there being so much unfinished business across local regeneration and national issues which are important to me, my head knows this to be impossible at this time.

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