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MPs standing down at the next general election

How many MPs are standing down at the next election, and why?

Dominic Raab
Former deputy prime minister Dominic Raab has announced he will not stand in the next general election.

How many MPs are standing down at the next election?

As of 1 December 2023, some 82 MPs have announced they that they will not stand again at the next general election.

The most recent MP to announce they are standing down was Sir James Duddridge – Conservative MP for Rochford and Southend East since 2005. Others standing down include former Conservative ministers Dominic Raab, Matt Hancock, Sajid Javid, and Ben Wallace. Former Labour ministers Harriet Harman and Margaret Hodge also plan to step down – as do Ian Blackford, former Westminster leader of the SNP, and select committee chairs Bill Cash, William Wragg and Robin Walker.

An Institute for Government graphic showing MPs intending to stand down at the next general election, as at 1 December 2023, where there are 82 MPs standing down in total, including 52 Conservative and 14 Labour MPs, and featuring people such as Dominic Raab, Matt Hancock and Ben Wallace.

What parties do they belong to?

Most of the MPs who are standing down are Conservatives – 52 of the 82 MPs who have made a public announcement to date. This is unsurprising, as there are more Conservative MPs in the Commons than MPs for any other party.

But while the Conservatives account for by far the most MPs standing down, they will not be the party with the highest proportional turnover at the next election. The nine SNP Westminster MPs equate to more than a fifth (21%) of the parliamentary party; the Conservatives’ 52 just 15%. The Green party’s sole MP, Caroline Lucas, has also announced she will not stand in the next election, as has Hywel Williams, one of only three Plaid Cymru MPs.

How many MPs usually stand down at general elections?

The 2010 election saw more than 100 MPs stand down, mainly from the Labour party, which had been in power since 1997. Some MPs also announced they were standing down after the expenses scandal the same year.

If the election is unexpected, MPs also have less time to consider whether to stand down – something that will have contributed to higher numbers of MPs standing down in 2010 and 2015 than in the snap elections of 2017 and 2019.

Despite some big names being among those stepping down at the next election, the number is currently lower than in 2010 and 2015. But it is likely to increase as the election approaches.

How long have the MPs standing down been in the Commons?

Conservatives who are standing down are most likely to be from the 2010 intake, as the party gained a lot of MPs in that election, including in marginal seats. Most SNP MPs stepping down are from the 2015 intake for similar reasons.

However, nine MPs from the 2017 and 2019 intakes, all Conservatives, are stepping down too, despite a relatively short period in parliament. These include MPs like Dehenna Davison, MP for Bishop Auckland, and Nicola Richards, MP for West Bromwich East, who won seats in traditional Labour strongholds in 2019.

Why are MPs standing down from parliament?

Some MPs are retiring from politics due to age or ill health, but not all and lots of those stepping down are comparatively young. For instance, SNP MP Mhairi Black, once parliament’s youngest MP and still in her 20s, has announced she does not intend to stand for parliament again. Other younger MPs have even become ministers, like Davison, or select committee chairs, like Walker, over the course of this parliament.

Many MPs are citing personal reasons for standing down, such as mental health struggles or a desire to spend more time with their families. Others have been critical of parliament itself. Black, for instance, described Westminster culture as "outdated, sexist and toxic" in her statement on leaving parliament. undefined BBC News, Mhairi Black to step down as SNP MP at next election, 4 July 2023, www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-66101123  Stuart Anderson said threats against his family had influenced his decision not to seek re-election in Wolverhampton South West, undefined BBC News, Mhairi Black to step down as SNP MP at next election, 4 July 2023, www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-66101123  although he subsequently has been chosen as a candidate for the seat of South Shropshire instead. undefined BBC News, Mhairi Black to step down as SNP MP at next election, 4 July 2023, www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-66101123

Some MPs’ decisions may also have been prompted by the changes to constituency boundaries which will be in place for the next election, which have meant they may have faced a reselection battle to find a new constituency. For instance, Jonathan Djanogly, MP for Huntingdon, announced he was standing down after he was unsuccessful in securing automatic re-adoption as a candidate in a new seat. undefined BBC News, Mhairi Black to step down as SNP MP at next election, 4 July 2023, www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-66101123

It is also likely that some MPs might simply be sceptical of their chances of winning re-election. Many of the Conservatives’ resignation statements have come in the past year, during which Labour has enjoyed a sustained poll lead, and the picture is not dissimilar in the SNP, whose poll standings have also taken a hit since various political scandals hit the party in 2023.

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