Cop26 chief Alok Sharma becomes latest MP planning to step down at next election

Former cabinet member and Cop26 president Sir Alok Sharma has announced that he will stand down at the next general election.

Sir Alok, who led the United Nations climate change conference in Glasgow two years ago, was critical of Rishi Sunak’s net-zero climbdown last week.

Commenting on the prime minister’s watering down of green policies Sir Alok said he was concerned about the “fracturing of UK political consensus on climate action” and that “chopping and changing policies” creates uncertainty for businesses and the public.

He is the latest in a number of Tory heavyweights, including Dominic Raab, Sajid Javid, and Ben Wallace, who have decided to stand down at the next general election.

In a statement on X, formerly Twitter, posted on Tuesday evening, he said: “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 & Mid Berkshire. This has not been an easy decision for me.”

Sir Alok Sharma speaks onstage during Global Citizen NOW: Climate Sessions 2023 in New York City

(Getty Images for Global Citizen)

“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.”

Sir Alok was knighted for his contributions as a world leader in the effort to tackle climate change in the 2023 New Year Honours List.

The Conservative MP for Reading West, who was elected in May 2010, was appointed full-time president for Cop26, the 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference, in January 2021.

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 SNP’s former leader at Westminster Ian Blackford and select committee chairs Sir Bill Cash, William Wragg and Robin Walker.

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