Tory MP Tim Loughton to stand down at next election

Tim Loughton gestures as he speaks next to Iain Duncan Smith
Mr Loughton (L), pictured last month with other members of the cross-party China group - Daniel Leal/AFP

Tim Loughton has become the latest Conservative MP to announce they are standing down at the next election.

The veteran Tory MP, who has represented East Worthing and Shoreham in West Sussex since 1997, said it was “wiser to leave five minutes too soon than to continue for five years too long”.

He said that he would continue supporting Rishi Sunak, who he said was “underappreciated”.

The announcement means that 64 Tories have now said they plan to quit Parliament rather than face re-election – the most before any general election since Labour’s landslide in 1997, when 72 decided not to stand again.

Mr Loughton is a former minister who currently serves as deputy chairman of the Home Affairs Select Committee.

In a letter sent to the chairman of his local Conservative Association, he wrote: “It has been a great honour to have served as the Member of Parliament for the newly created East Worthing and Shoreham constituency since 1997.

“With the help of a fantastic local party association, we have fought seven general elections successfully.

“By the time of the next one I will have spent more than 27 years in Parliament. After much reflection I have decided now is the right time for me to move on and hand over to someone new.

“As former Cabinet Minister John Biffen appropriately put it: ‘In politics I think it is wiser to leave five minutes too soon than to continue for five years too long.’”

Tim Loughton speaks from the backbenches of the House of Commons, with other MPs seated around him
Mr Loughton in the Commons. He has held the same seat since 1997 - UNPIXS

Mr Loughton said he had spent 47 years as a Conservative activist and would find it “difficult to adjust to having my weekend and private life back again, but as I contemplate new challenges it is unlikely public service will be far away”.

He said he took the “greatest pride” in his stint as children’s minister under David Cameron, and as a backbencher had “continued to champion the cause of vulnerable children and giving a voice to young people at the top table”.

A vocal critic of the Chinese government, Mr Loughton was sanctioned by the country in 2021.

In his letter, he said he had helped shine a “spotlight” on “the industrial-scale human rights abuses by the Chinese regime resulting in being one of the five sanctioned MPs”. He added: “I hope you agree that my time on the backbenches has been far from uneventful.”

Support for Rishi Sunak

In a show of support to Mr Sunak, he said: “I have no intention of remaining anything other than totally focused on supporting our excellent and underappreciated Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, and the interests of my East Worthing constituents in the House of Commons in my remaining months there.”

Mr Loughton also paid tribute to his family, and the “tremendous contribution” of his wife, Liza: “I know how much she had to sacrifice and only through her unwavering support have I been able to devote myself to the constituency to the extent I have.

“The intensity of an MPs job is sadly not conducive to being the most present parent, and it remains a great irony that as children’s minister I was constantly promoting the importance of strong family attachment whilst not being able to be as ‘attached’ as I would have ideally liked.”

Whoever replaces Mr Loughton as the Conservative candidate will face a tough task to keep East Worthing and Shoreham blue. Mr Loughton achieved a majority of 7,424 in 2019 but some recent MRP polls have suggested that Labour is on track to take the seat.