Housing Secretary Michael Gove will not stand at general election

Housing Secretary Michael Gove has said he will not stand at the general election.

Mr Gove announced after nearly 20 years as the Conservative Party MP for Surrey Heath, and serving in multiple cabinets over the course of the last 14 years, "a new generation should lead".

In a letter to his constituency chairman, the veteran cabinet minister said being an MP and minister has been a "profound privilege".

General election latest: Reaction as Gove standing down

"As a child in Aberdeen I could never have imagined I would have the opportunity to sit in the Commons, let along the cabinet table," he wrote.

"That four prime ministers asked me to serve the country in their governments has been the honour of my life."

Mr Gove held roles including education secretary, chief whip, justice secretary, environment secretary, chancellor of Duchy of Lancaster, and most recently the housing brief.

He was also a vocal leader of the Vote Leave campaign during the Brexit debate.

There was also his shock decision to withdraw his backing for Boris Johnson in the 2016 leadership election to replace David Cameron - which ended up seeing Theresa May take the reins of the party.

Mr Johnson had his revenge when he sacked Mr Gove from government as his administration collapsed.

He became the 77th Conservative MP to announce he was standing down - you can read the full list of MPs leaving parliament here.

In his resignation letter, Mr Gove wrote: "That four prime ministers asked me to serve the country in their governments has been the honour of my life.

"I am grateful to them all: David Cameron who gave me the chance to pursue the education reforms in which I passionately believe, Theresa May who asked me to support her in challenging times, Boris Johnson who delivered Brexit and set out the levelling up vision which is so important for our country, and Rishi Sunak who asked me to return to government when I believed my ministerial career had ended, enabling me to deepen and intensify the levelling up programme.

"His support has ensured we can deliver projects which are benefitting towns and communities in all parts of the country. Having seen up close the demands of the role I know we all owe them so much."

He added: "I also 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."

While he was elected with a majority of 18,349 in 2019, his seat in Surrey is the kind which the Liberal Democrats will be targeting.

Reacting to him announcing he will stand down, the Lib Dem MP Sarah Olney 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.

"Every Conservative MP that steps down in a blue wall battleground is a damning statement against Rishi Sunak and proof the Liberal Democrats are on the up."