The exodus of young MPs from the Conservative party is gathering pace, conjuring unfortunate comparisons with rats and sinking ships.
Today, Dehenna Davison, Tory MP for Bishop Auckland, became the latest to announce that she will stand down at the next general election. Elected only in 2019, she won a seat held by Labour since 1935. Heralded as the latest generation of Conservative MPs, the 29-year-old said she wanted to devote more time to “life outside politics – mainly to my family”.
Davison admitted she hasn’t had “anything like a normal life for a twenty-something” because of her work in politics. Only this month, she spoke out over “sinister” tweets she received, including sexually explicit content.
Appointed a parliamentary undersecretary for levelling up in September, Davison said she would not be “checking out” until the next election. Earlier this year, Davison was forced to deny she was defecting from the Conservative party after its poor performance in the Wakefield and Tiverton and Honiton by-elections.
The announcement follows a number of younger MPs bowing out from Parliament come the next election – with eight Tory MPs in total having already decided to quit. Chloe Smith, MP for Norwich North and briefly work and pensions secretary, announced she would step down after representing the constituency since 2009. At 27, she was the youngest MP in the House of Commons when first elected. It is understood she is standing down for personal reasons.
Similarly, William Wragg, MP for Hazel Grove since 2015, announced he would also leave the Commons. Only 34, the MP took a break from his role earlier this year to recover from depression. Chair of the Public Administration and Constitutions Affairs select committee, Wragg was a staunch critic of the then Prime Minister Boris Johnson and accused Downing Street of blackmailing MPs.
Tory MPs have until 5 December to declare whether they plan to stand down at the next election. With many fearing the next election is all but lost, are they choosing to jump before they are pushed out by the electorate?