Theresa May to stand down as MP at general election, as Tory Commons’ exodus grows

May is one of 64 Tory MPs who have announced they will be quitting Parliament.

The former prime minister has announced today – International Women’s Day – that she will not be standing as an MP at the next general election.

In a statement to the Maidenhead Advertiser, she said she had taken the ‘difficult decision’ to leave her seat of Maidenhead after 27 years.

May joins other high-profile Tory MPs, including Ben Wallace, Dominic Raab, Chris Grayling and George Eustice, who have announced they will not seek re-election at the next general election, which is widely expected to be held in the autumn.

May became prime minister in 2016, following the resignation of David Cameron after the EU referendum. Prior to becoming PM, she had been home secretary for six years, making her one of Britain’s longest-serving home secretaries.

As home secretary, May was a leading architect of the so-called ‘hostile environment’ for immigrants. The hardline strategy included the touring of controversial ‘Go Home’ vans, which recommended that illegal immigrants should ‘go home or face arrest.’ The vans toured areas with high immigrant populations. The advertising campaign faced widespread criticism. Yvette Cooper compared the slogans on the vans with those used by the National Front in the 1970s.

Her three-year tenure at No 10. was dogged by the aftermath of Brexit. Her Brexit plans repeatedly failed to impress bickering MPs and was rejected three times by Parliament. May lost her majority at a snap general election in 2017 but remained in power after forging a deal with the DUP. In June 2019, she announced her resignation.

On May’s announcement today, Gareth Davies, Treasury minister, told Sky News:

“How appropriate on International Women’s Day the country’s second female Prime Minister is standing down after a pretty good innings, 27 years of service, not just to her constituents but as one of our longest serving home secretaries and then prime minister.”

When pressed about how more than 60 Tory MPs have said they will not stand again, Davies attempted to argue that it was normal prior to elections, especially for MPs who have been parliamentarians for a long time.

Labour chair Anneliese Dodds  however argued that May’s decision to quit  was further evidence of a lack of confidence in Rishi Sunak among his own party.

“I think this really strengthens those calls for change, those calls for a general election,” she told GB News.

Gabrielle Pickard-Whitehead is a contributing editor to Left Foot Forward

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