Levelling-up minister Dehenna Davison, seen as a rising star in the Tory party, has joined a veteran Conservative in announcing she will stand down at the next election.
Ms Davison, who became Bishop Auckland’s first Conservative MP in 2019, is the latest in a steady stream of Tories to detail their exit plans amid a polling slump.
The 29-year-old’s announcement came shortly after Sir Gary Streeter said he would not run again in the South West Devon constituency he has comfortably held since its conception in 1997.
She is a prominent figure in the so-called red wall of former Labour strongholds Boris Johnson managed to capture for the Tories in the last general election.
In a statement, Ms Davison said: “For my whole adult life, I’ve dedicated the vast majority of my time to politics, and to help make people’s lives better.
“But, to be frank, it has meant I haven’t had anything like a normal life for a twenty-something.
“I will always be humbled to have had the opportunity to serve as a Member of Parliament. But now the time feels right for me to devote more of my attention to life outside politics – mainly to my family and helping support them as they’ve helped support me.
“That’s why I won’t be standing in the next general election.”
Brought into government by Liz Truss, Ms Davison was kept on in the role under Rishi Sunak when he took over as Prime Minister and her prospects in the party had seemed high.
But becoming the eight Tory MP to indicate they will not be standing again will further spook the party as it lags far behind Labour in opinion polling.
Ms Davison won Bishop Auckland with a 7,962 majority in 2019, despite the constituency having always voted Labour since 1935.
Sir Gary, the former shadow international development secretary whose announcement on Twitter came a little while earlier, said he believes the Prime Minister “will recover strongly from recent challenges”.
But he said a local replacement in the constituency must be selected “to give us the best chance of holding this seat”, hinting at some doubts.
In the 2019 general election, Sir Gary won the seat by 21,430 votes over second-placed Labour.
“It has been an honour and privilege to represent this constituency for over 30 years, but the time has come for me to step back and let a younger person take over,” the 67-year-old said.
“I very much hope that a local candidate will be chosen to give us the best chance of holding this seat.
“I have great confidence that under Rishi Sunak’s leadership our country will recover strongly from recent challenges.”
Senior Conservatives including Chloe Smith and William Wragg have also this week announced they will not be running for re-election.
The party is braced for a growing exodus as opinion polls suggest the Conservatives is facing an almighty challenge to recover their popularity.