Former health secretary Matt Hancock will not stand at next election

Former health secretary Matt Hancock has said he will not stand for the Conservatives in the next general election.

In a letter to the prime minister, Mr Hancock said: “For my part, I want to do things differently. I have discovered a whole new world of possibilities which I am excited to explore – new ways for me to communicate with people of all ages and from all backgrounds.

“I look forward to championing issues that are dear to my heart, including better support for dyslexic children who get a raw deal from the education system.”

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A spokesperson for Mr Hancock later confirmed “he has no intention of standing again”.

But there were also signs of a tense relationship between the MP and his local party in West Suffolk, with Tory Councillor Lance Stanbury saying it was “inevitable” he would step down after being “heavily criticised” by members.

Another councillor, Ian Houlder, also descibed Mr Hancock of being “up the creek without a paddle”, adding: “He was looking at his options quite rightly as anybody would and he’s gone for the money.”

The former health secretary – who returned to Westminster last week from Australia following his controversial spell on ITV’s I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here! – also broke the news in a video posted on social media platform TikTok.

“Today I am announcing I won’t be standing for parliament as a Conservative at the next election,” he said.

“It’s been a huge privilege to serve in parliament and serve the people of West Suffolk and I am incredibly grateful to everybody who has supported me both in Suffolk and in government since then.

“I’ve increasingly come to the view that it is so important to engage with people about politics, about how our country is run, not just through parliament but also through new and innovative ways – and I look forward to doing more of that.

“There are exciting possibilities ahead and, of course, until the next election I will serve all of my constituents and ensure that they have their voice in parliament.

“But, at the same time, make sure that the revival of Conservativism – modern Conservatism that is so necessary – that that debate takes place and engages with everyone – including you.”

The former health secretary’s local news outlet, Suffolk News, had last week reported that Newmarket Town Council was to send a letter to Mr Hancock asking him to resign following a vote.

It reported that before the vote, Independent Councillor Lisa Crissall, said: “We, the constituents of West Suffolk feel extremely let down by our MP Matt Hancock in his decision to take part in this reality TV show.

“This decision would lead us to believe that this is the career path he would prefer to take, as a celebrity instead of fulfilling his role as Minister of Parliament for West Suffolk.

“We would ask that he resign his seat and allow someone who cares about their constituents to fill the role.”

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Matt Hancock stung by scorpion

Mr Hancock was stripped of the Conservative whip after it emerged he was joining the reality TV show, prompting speculation about his political future and whether he would stand again at the next general election which must take place before January 2025.

The former health secretary is currently sitting as an independent MP in the House of Commons.

Just a few days ago Mr Hancock’s spokesperson told the Telegraph newspaper: “He has no intention of standing down or stepping away from politics.”

The MP for West Suffolk has held his seat since 2010 and in the 2019 snap general election increased his majority to 23,194.

He becomes the latest in a growing list of MPs who have announced they will not seek re-election when the country next heads to the polls.

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How does the number of MPs stepping down compare to previous years?

Those who have announced their intention to leave parliament in the next few years range from the longest standing female MP, Labour’s Harriet Harman, to one of those only elected at the last election in 2019, Conservative MP Dehenna Davison.

Conservative MP Sajid Javid is another former cabinet minister to have announced his intention to step down.

Mr Javid, who was unsuccessful in his bid for Conservative Party leadership earlier this year, said in a statement: “It has been a decision I have wrestled with for some time.”

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