Alok Sharma: Cop26 chief says he won't stand as MP at general election

More than 70 MPs have announced they will not stand again at the next polls

Cop26 President Alok Sharma at the G7 Climate, Energy and Environment Ministers meeting in Berlin in May 2022. AFP
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Britain's Cop26 president Alok Sharma has announced he will not stand as an MP at the next general election.

The Tory who led the UN climate change conference in Glasgow two years ago, and former Cabinet minister, said he would continue to champion climate action in Parliament for the rest of his time as an MP.

Mr Sharma has held the Reading West constituency since 2010 and at the next general election it will be subject to boundary changes and renamed Reading West and Mid Berkshire.

In the 2019 general election, he increased his majority to 4,117 from 2,876 in 2017.

”I have this evening informed my local Conservative Association that I have decided not to stand at the next general election and therefore do not seek to be adopted as the Conservative candidate for the revised seat of Reading West and Mid Berkshire," Mr Sharma said on X, formerly known as Twitter.

"This has not been an easy decision for me.

“It has been the honour of my life to serve as the MP for a constituency in the town where I grew up, and a privilege to serve in government and represent the UK on the international stage.

“My grateful thanks to all the constituents, local organisations, charities and businesses I have had the pleasure of working with since being selected as the parliamentary candidate in 2006, as we have campaigned together on a whole range of issues to make our local area a better place to live and work.

“I will continue to support my Conservative colleagues and serve my constituents diligently for the remainder of my time as an MP, as well as champion in Parliament the causes I care deeply about, especially climate action.”

Mr Sharma was knighted for his contributions as a world leader in tackling climate change in the 2023 New Year's Honours List.

His announcement comes a few days after he raised concerns about Prime Minister Rishi Sunak weakening pledges designed to help the UK achieve a net-zero economy by 2050.

In a series of tweets last week, Mr Sharma wrote: “I’m concerned about fracturing of UK political consensus on climate action.

“Chopping and changing policies creates uncertainty for businesses and the public. Ultimately this makes it more difficult to attract investment and pushes up costs for consumers.

“The UK has led the world on net zero, climate action and tackling climate change during the Cop26 climate conference.

“Our international partners have concerns about the stance taken. Leading on a green growth agenda is good for the economy, investment, jobs and the environment.”

At the start of September, Mr Sunak eased an effective ban on new onshore wind farms in England to avert a threatened rebellion by Conservative MPs, led by Mr Sharma.

His amendment to the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill to end the de facto ban had been signed by dozens of backbench Conservatives, including former prime minister Liz Truss and other former ministers.

More than 70 MPs have announced they will not stand again at the next general election.

Those standing down include Tory former cabinet ministers Dominic Raab, Matt Hancock and Sajid Javid, and the current Defence Secretary Ben Wallace.

Labour former ministers Harriet Harman and Margaret Hodge have also said they plan to step down, as has the Scottish National Party's former leader at Westminster Ian Blackford, and select committee chairmen Bill Cash, William Wragg and Robin Walker.

Updated: September 27, 2023, 8:32 AM