Seven MPs standing down who made great contributions to politics

8 May 2017

Every general election sees members of parliament lose seats and new fresh faces from other parties replace them. However, an election also means that some – often long-standing – MPs decide to leave parliament and seek other careers or even retire.


About 30 current parliamentarians will not seek re-election. Among those leaving parliament are some high-profile MPs who made a difference in UK politics, seven of whose careers merit a short tribute here.



Sir Eric Pickles (Brentwood and Ongar, Conservatives)


Elected to parliament in 1992, Pickles is probably best known for serving as Communities and Local Government Secretary in David Cameron’s coalition government (2010-2015). His biggest passion, however, is the fight against anti-Semitism. He is chairman of Conservative Friends of Israel and will continue to serve as the UK’s Special Envoy for post-Holocaust issues after he retires form parliament. How fitting, then, that his last action in parliament was getting David Ward deselected as Liberal Democrat parliamentary candidate after he made anti-Semitic comments.


Brentwood and Ongar is a safe Conservative seat and Alex Burghart will most likely succeed Pickles as its MP.



Andy Burnham (Leigh, Labour)


He may be leaving the House of Commons, but he is certainly not leaving politics. Last week Burnham became the first elected Mayor of Greater Manchester and now serves as one of the most powerful politicians in local government.


After entering parliament in 2001, Burnham served in various roles in the Labour governments and later stood in his party’s leadership elections in 2010 and 2015, starting as favourite in the latter but surprisingly losing out to Jeremy Corbyn. Leaving Westminster might be seen by some as jumping the (sinking) ship, however it seems safe to say that Burnham will have a role to play in the future of the Labour party. Even more certain is a Labour win in his former constituency of Leigh and Jo Platt will be his successor.


Douglas Carswell (Clacton, Independent)


Having been elected to represent Harwich/Clacton first as a Conservative and then for UKIP, Carswell in the end sat as an independent and decided that his job was done after the Brexit vote.


For better or worse, Carswell influenced the rise of euroscepticism in the UK, symbolised the rise and fall of UKIP and in the end help win victory for Vote Leave. As an arch-Eurosceptic, Carswell went into politics to fight for a British withdrawal from the EU. His success in achieving this surely makes him on of the most influential UK parliamentarians of our time. His formerly safe Tory seat of Clacton will probably be won by Giles Watling for the Tories.



Sir Alan Haselhurst (Saffron Waldon, Conservative)


After nearly 35 years in parliament – first for Middleton and Prestwich (1970-1974) and then for Saffron Waldon (1977-2017) – Haselhurst announced he would be retiring this year after initially claiming otherwise.


A backbencher for most of his career, his most influential role was as Chairman of Ways and Means in the House of Commons - a position he held from 1997 to 2010. After thus serving as deputy to the Speaker, he stood as a candidate for that job himself in 2009. His role in the expenses scandal however meant that he was not elected. Saffron Waldon is a very safe Tory seat and Kemi Badenoch will replace Haselhurst in the Commons.



Alan Johnson (Hull West and Hessle, Labour)


Elected to parliament in 1997, Johnson became one of the leading members of the later New Labour governments. He was Trade and Education Secretary under Tony Blair and served as Health and Home Secretary under Gordon Brown. In 2007, he narrowly lost the contest for his party’s deputy leadership.


After Jeremy Corbyn’s election as Labour leader Johnson became one of his most vociferous moderate critics. A safe Labour seat, Emma Hardy will probably succeed him in Hull West and Hessle.



Gisela Stuart (Birmingham Edgbaston, Labour)


As a symbol of the stunning success of New Labour, Stuart won the former Tory seat in 1997. Her most prominent role in the following 20 years as an MP was surely as chair of Vote Leave.


As the leading Labour Brexiteer, her support for leaving the EU played a vital part in convincing her party’s voters to vote for Brexit and swing the result in her side’s favour. Birmingham Edgbaston is a key marginal seat and one that the Tories and Caroline Squire are hoping to win back.



George Osborne (Tatton, Conservative)


The former chancellor is the highest-profile MP to stand down at this year’s election. Elected in 2001, Osborne quickly became a leading figure of the modernisers in the Tory party, and as such a key ally of David Cameron. Together in power Osborne enacted austerity policies and oversaw the recovery of the UK’s economy as chancellor (2010-2016).


After losing the Brexit referendum he was sacked by Theresa May and will now seek a new career in journalism, amongst other interests. His constituency will see the return of former minister Esther McVey to parliament.




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