Sajid Javid has announced that he will not stand in the next general election, saying that being an MP had been “the privilege of [his] life”.
The former chancellor, who has held a number of government posts along with his seat of Bromsgrove, is the most high-profile Tory MP to decide to stand down at the next national vote, due in 2024.
It comes amid reports that the Conservative Party has told its MPs to decide on its future on Monday. with a number of younger members already confirming their departures.
But he also made the announcement on the same day Labor won a historic majority in the Chester city by-electionwith strong warnings that such a change at national level could cause big problems for the Tories next time the country goes to the polls.
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In a letter to his party chairman posted on Twitter, Javid said it was “a decision I have struggled with for some time” but had been “accelerated” because of the party’s deadline.
“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,” he said.
“I have always tried to make decisions in the national interest and in line with my values, and I can only hope that my best will be enough.”
He promised the decision would not affect his work as an MP during his remaining time in office, adding: “I will of course continue to support my friend the Prime Minister and the people of Bromsgrove in any way I can.”
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said he was “sad to see my good friend… retire from politics”, tweeting: “He has been a proud champion of enterprise and opportunity during his time in government and on the back benches, especially for the people of Bromsgrove.”
Ending with a Star Wars quote, the Prime Minister added: “May the Force be with you, Saj.”
Javid first entered parliament in 2010 at the start of the coalition government and got his first backbench job in 2012 as economic secretary to the Treasury.
But over the past 12 years he has held some of the highest offices in the state, including home secretary and chancellor of the exchequer.
Javid left the latter role in 2020 – less than three months in the job – after then Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his senior adviser Dominic Cummings insisted he sack his aides and replace them with others chosen by Downing Street.
He returned to Mr Johnson’s senior team as health secretary in June 2021 following Matt Hancock’s resignation after he was caught on CCTV kissing one of his aides and breaking his own COVID guidance.
But it was the prime minister who resigned in the wave of exits that led to Johnson’s downfall over the summer, followed minutes later by then Chancellor and now Prime Minister Rishi Sunak.
Javid stood twice for the leadership of his party, but lost to Johnson and his successor Liz Truss.