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Michael Gove quits ahead of General Election

Housing Secretary Michael Gove has stepped down as a member of parliament after Prime Minister Rishi Sunak called for a surprise General Election.

Gove championed what looks to be the ill-fated Renters (Reform) Bill, which was set to reform the rental market – notably by abolishing Section 21 Evictions – but the legislation now looks to have been lost owing to the sluggish pace in which it moved through parliament.

Mr Gove said in a letter to his Tory association chairman: “I know the toll office can take, as do those closest to me. No one in politics is a conscript.

“We are volunteers who willingly choose our fate. And the chance to serve is wonderful. But there comes a moment when you know that it is time to leave. That a new generation should lead.”

If Gove had stood at his Surrey Heath constituency it would have been close, as he was projected to win by just 1% over the Liberal Democrats.

Gove is one of 78 Conservative MPs that said they would not be standing for re-election, exceeding the previous record set in 1997 prior to New Labour coming to power.

Other notable Tories who aren’t contesting their seats are: Dame Andrea Leadsom, Greg Clark, Craig Mackinlay, Sir John Redwood, Sir David Evennett, Dame Eleanor Laing, Jo Churchill, Huw Merriman, James Grundy, and Sir Michael Ellis.

Sarah Olney, the Lib Dem Treasury spokesman, said: “Conservative politicians are fleeing the blue wall in their droves.

“Michael Gove is running scared of the Liberal Democrats. The drumbeat of Conservative MPs stepping down has been getting louder as the days go by – now it’s deafening.”

Gove, 56, has been in politics for 19 years, having first been elected MP for Surrey Heath in 2005.

He was education secretary between 2010 and 2014 when David Cameron was PM, while he went on to serve under Theresa May and Boris Johnson.