'Tip of the iceberg': Up to 100 Tory MPs 'to quit by election', insiders fear after Heappey stands down

15 March 2024, 12:44 | Updated: 15 March 2024, 12:46

'Tip of the iceberg': Up to 100 Tory MPs 'to quit by election', insiders fear after Heappey stands down
'Tip of the iceberg': Up to 100 Tory MPs 'to quit by election', insiders fear after Heappey stands down. Picture: LBC/Alamy
Natasha Clark

By Natasha Clark

Another one bites the dust.

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James Heappey, the armed forces minister is to quit at the next election as an MP, and will stand down as a minister within the month.

He's the latest of a long line of MPs from across the political spectrum, with decades of Commons experience, who have said they are bowing out.

For Heappey, it's officially down to family reasons, but defence spending and being overlooked to become Defence Secretary after Ben Wallace quit will also have factored in.

Elected for the first time in just 2019, it says something that many Tory MPs see no future career opportunities that they are quitting after just five years.

It means we're on course for a huge turnover of faces at the next election - whenever that happens.

And I'm told by one Tory party insider that it's just "the tip of the iceberg".

They expect a staggering 100 Tory MPs to quit before the election is formally called - so just another 40 to come.

Some are said to be waiting for the next honours list in the summer to see if they can secure a sought-after peerage first before making up their minds for sure.

Two MPs have told me this week they are, for the first time in decades, redoing their CVs and dusting up their LinkedIn profiles as they begin the hunt for their next job.

Last week Theresa May was the most high profile to throw in the towel to focus on work outside Parliament on modern slavery and trafficking.

She told her local paper she was off... despite pleadings from No10 for MPs to avoid their announcements in the week of the Budget.

I hear even her local Tory association members - who were furious that they weren't told in advance - joked that they could replace one former PM with another... a certain Boris Johnson.

Was it a joke? Just imagine...

The grim mood within the party and indeed in Parliament is reaching a breaking point, with discipline openly breaking down across Government this week.

Alongside that depressing mood, talent and experience are slowly seeping out of the party, and out of parliament for good.

It means the people creating our laws and making sure they work will have considerably less experience than before.

Whatever you think of these MPs and their political colours, that's a huge blow to our democracy.

We can only hope that those who are elected to replace them, on whatever side of the green benches, come in with enough bright ideas, talent and experience to properly fix some of the deep rooted problems the country faces.

Buckle up, Sir Keir, you're in for a rough ride.