Sajid Javid has announced he will not be standing at the next general election, calling time on his parliamentary career and adding to a recent rush of Tory MPs quitting politics.
The MP for Bromsgrove announced the news in a letter to his local Conservative Party association which he tweeted out on Friday, admitting he had “wrestled” with the decision.
Mr Javid, 55, has held six cabinet positions including two great offices of state - heading up the Treasury and the Home Office - and ran for the Tory leadership twice, in 2019 and this summer.
The decision by such an experienced minister to leave politics will be seen as a signal that some on the Tory benches believe that election defeat is looming.
Recent polls have put the Labour Party 20 percentage points ahead of the Conservatives, who sunk to record polling lows after Liz Truss’s mini-budget backfired this autumn.
On Thursday in the constituency of Chester, the Conservatives suffered their worst election result since 1832, getting just 22 per cent of the vote as Labour won the by-election there, extending its majority.
Mr Javid’s announcement that he will not be standing follows a flurry of other Tory MPs doing likewise in the last fortnight, ahead of a deadline for decisions by Monday, as set by party bosses.
Many are relatively young for MPs. The Tories Dehenna Davison, 29, William Wragg, 34, and Chloe Smith, 40, have all said in recent weeks that they will stand down.
Mr Javid will remain as an MP until the next general election, which is expected to be held in 2024, with Mr Sunak able to decide exactly when. The latest it can be held is January 2025.
'The privilege of my life'
Mr Javid wrote in his letter: "It has been a decision I have wrestled with for some time, but I have ultimately concluded not to stand again for what would be my fifth election.”
"Being the local MP and serving in government has been the privilege of my life and I am immensely grateful for the opportunity to serve.
"I always sought to make decisions in the national interest and in line with my values, and I can only hope my best was sufficient.
"I will of course continue to support my friend the Prime Minister and the people of Bromsgrove in any way I can."
The decision effectively brings to a close one of the most prominent cabinet careers in the 12-year Tory stretch in Downing Street, which began in May 2010 with the Coalition.
Mr Javid, who entered Parliament that year, was elevated to the cabinet as culture secretary by David Cameron, who later made him business secretary.
He served as communities secretary then home secretary under Theresa May and was made Boris Johnson’s first chancellor, before quitting in a row about government advisers.
He returned to Mr Johnson’s cabinet in June 2021 as health secretary, replacing Matt Hancock with the Covid pandemic still dominant. Liz Truss did not give him a cabinet job.
Mr Javid was once seen as a close senior colleague to Rishi Sunak, who had served under him in the Treasury as chief secretary and replaced him as chancellor.
However, Mr Javid was overlooked for a cabinet role in Mr Sunak’s first front bench appointments in October, making a stint on the backbenches likely all the way to the next election.
'Proud champion of enterprise and opportunity'
A financier before he turned to politics, Mr Javid had been tipped by numerous current and former Tory insiders to quit, but his aides denied the claims as recently as last week.
He becomes the 13th Tory MP to announce they will be standing down at the next election, out of close to 360. Some considering similar may not decide until closer to the time.
The number is not dissimilar to those in the Labour Party. But what is striking is the age differential, with the average of quitting Tory MPs being much younger than Labour.
Mr Sunak expressed his sadness at Mr Javid’s decisions, tweeting: “Sad to see my good friend Sajid Javid stepping back from politics.
“He’s been a proud champion of enterprise and opportunity during his time in Government and on the backbenches - particularly for the people of Bromsgrove. “May the Force be with you, Saj.”