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UK ex-finance minister joins exodus of Tory MPs

UK ex-finance minister joins exodus of Tory MPs

Britain’s former finance minister Sajid Javid on Friday said he would not be standing at the next election, as the Conservative party faces a slump in support after 12 years in power.

Sajid Javid, 52, is the highest-profile Tory MP yet to announce that he will quit at the next nationwide poll, which is due before January 2025 at the latest.

The Conservatives, in office since 2010, are on course for defeat by the main opposition Labour party, according to opinion polls, and several younger Tory MPs have already said they will not be standing again.

A by-election held in the City of Chester constituency in northwest England on Thursday saw Labour retain the seat as expected but the Tories haemorrhage support.

Political observers assessed that it mirrored an expected swing to Labour at the next general election.

A series of scandals under former prime minister Boris Johnson, and the political and financial turmoil caused by his short-lived successor Liz Truss, badly dented Tory support.

Javid — a cabinet minister under David Cameron, Theresa May and Johnson — said he had thought long and hard about the decision.

He wrote in a letter to the head of his Bromsgrove constituency in central England that being an MP and in government had been “the privilege of my life”.

“I am immensely grateful for the opportunity to serve,” the millionaire former investment banker added.

Javid, the son of a Pakistani immigrant bus driver, was Britain’s first Muslim home secretary and chancellor of the exchequer.

He also served as health secretary and campaigned earlier this year to take over from Johnson.

He quit the Treasury in February 2020 after refusing an order from 10 Downing Street to fire all his special advisers. He was replaced by Rishi Sunak, who is now prime minister.

Sunak said he was “sad” to see his “good friend” and fellow “Star Wars” fan Javid go.

“May the Force be with you, Saj,” he added.

Sunak, who took over from Truss in a Tory leadership contest in October, is trying to claw back support in time for the election.

But he faces an uphill battle against a backdrop of a cost-of-living crisis that is squeezing incomes and generating widespread strikes.

The Conservative party has given its MPs until December 5 to declare whether they will run in the next election, when many constituency maps will be redrawn.

Johnson does intend to stand again, according to sources close to the former prime minister, after speculation that he would quit parliament for a lucrative career of writing and speech-making.