Minister Robert Halfon to quit at next election as Conservative MP exodus climbs to 63

Robert Halfon has left his role as education minister after announcing he will be standing down from parliament at the next election.

In a letter addressed to the prime minister and posted to X/Twitter on Tuesday afternoon, the Harlow MP said that is was “time for me to step down at the forthcoming General Election, and in doing so, to resign as a Minister in your Government.”

He added: “I would like to thank the Secretary of State for Education, Rt Hon Gillian Keegan MP, who is a true believer and trailblazer in apprenticeships and boosting skills education, and especially to my private office team and the outstanding officials in the skills, apprenticeships and higher education teams at the DfE, for their tireless work to deliver a skills and apprenticeships nation”.

Halfon has represented the constituency of Harlow since the 2010 general election. 

He attended cabinet under prime minister David Cameron from May 2015 and July 2016 as minister without portfolio and deputy chairman of the Conservative Party. 

Halfon was appointed minister of state at the Department for Education by Rishi Sunak in October 2022. He previously served in the government has minister of state for skills between 2016 and 2017.

Prior to October 2022, Halfon had been the chair of the House of Commons education select committee.

Halfon supported Remain in the 2016 Brexit referendum and backed Sajid Javid in the 2019 Conservative Party leadership election.

An independent MP who is not afraid to speak his mind, he has previously campaigned against hospital parking charges, called for St Georges Day to be a bank holiday, and pressed for a reduction in fuel duties.

He has also previously called for more Conservatives to join trade unions.

Mapped: All the MPs standing down at the next election as total nears 100

It comes as former armed forces minister James Heappey left his role earlier on Tuesday afternoon after previously declaring his intention to stand down at the next election.

Heappey and Halfon are the 62nd and 63rd Conservative MPs respectively to have announced they are resigning at the election.

In 1997, ahead of the Labour Landslide won by prime minister Tony Blair, 75 Conservative MPs quit parliament. 

Halfon’s decision not to fight for reelection also comes after former prime minister Theresa May announced she will step down as the MP for Maidenhead at the next election earlier this month.

Former cabinet minister Brandon Lewis has also recently announced he will be standing down.

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Minister James Heappey to quit at next election as Conservative MP exodus climbs to 62