Departing British MP blames political environment for mass resignations

Fed up with backbiting and facing potential election loss, 15 Conservatives have announced their departure with more expected to follow

Douglas Ross says Conservative MPs are quitting parliament because of 'corrosive' politics. PA
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The Scottish leader of Britain's Conservative Party, who is leaving parliament, has told The National that Westminster's year of “corrosive politics” is leading to many of his colleagues quitting.

Douglas Ross joins a number of young Tory politicians who no longer wish to remain in the House of Commons in part due to the tensions generated by Brexit and the acrimonious departures of two prime ministers in a year.

Fifteen MPs have announced that they are leaving. They include the 29-year-old levelling-up minister Dehenna Davison, the former chancellor Sajid Javid, 53, and the former work and pensions secretary Chloe Smith, 40.

“I think politics has got more corrosive over this period,” Mr Ross, 39, said.

“I think we've probably experienced it earlier than the rest in Scotland following the [2014] referendum and divisive politics is now more common across the country.

“I think colleagues are just fed up that they go home and get shouted out in the street and that there is some pretty terrible stuff on social media.”

The MP for Moray, who announced two years ago he would not stand but instead continue as a Member of the Scottish Parliament, added that some had realised that they could earn the £84,000 MP salary outside politics “with none of the hassle”.

But other Conservatives feel that being so far behind Labour in the polls means election defeat is inevitable.

“I think part of it is that we can see the writing on the wall,” said one of the leaving MPs, who did not want to be named. “While being in government is very stimulating being in opposition is not.”

The departing MP also suggested that colleagues from the Red Wall constituencies, Labour seats that fell to Conservatives in 2019 election, who were highly vulnerable had ignored last Monday’s deadline to announce their departure.

“I heard there are some that didn't respond by the deadline but almost certainly aren't going to stand again probably because they just don’t expect to get in," the MP said.

“They stood in 2019 because they were happy to help the party but then surprisingly they've been become an MP and now can’t be bothered with all the hassle that comes with it. Then there are others like Sajid Javid, who is a loss, but he can see there's no route back into government yet he's still young enough to go and do something else.”

The new boundary changes to constituencies, which mean some MPs will almost certainly lose their majority, have been given as another reason for departures.

Foremost among the youthful departures is Davison, 29, who bluntly announced her departure stating: “I haven’t had anything like a normal life for a twenty-something”.

Veteran Tory MP, David Jones said he could not understand her reasons for leaving.

“This illustrates that maybe people need more of a hinterland before they stand for parliament. This career MP thing is a relatively recent phenomenon,” he said.

Updated: December 12, 2022, 5:29 AM