How Sunak and Starmer will try to parachute in their candidates with many new faces on way

The last time there was a change in the main party of government an outgoing Labour minister famously left a note saying "I'm afraid there is no money". Never mind that, for the next five weeks until polls close at 10pm on 4 July, the UK has no MPs.

At the stroke of midnight last Thursday all their writs expired. All those seeking to get into the Commons are now just prospective parliamentary candidates. They have until this Friday to make sure that their names are registered on the ballot paper.

Even if there are no gains and losses and not a single seat changes hands between the parties, the next parliament is certain to look very different from the last one.

Follow latest updates on the election

So far 134 members of the 2019-2024 parliament have announced they will not be fighting them again. This means that a minimum of 20%, one in five, of the new MPs will be new faces.

Those bowing out include major figures such as Michael Gove and Chris Heaton-Harris, both currently cabinet ministers, as well as Harriet Harman, Matt Hancock, Ian Blackford, Ben Bradshaw, Margaret Hodge, Bill Cash, Margaret Hodge, Douglas Ross, Rosie Winterton and Margaret Beckett.

Expect a few more quitters before nominations close at the end of this week.

In the meantime, the scramble to fill the last few vacancies will reveal a lot about the direction in which the leaderships would like their parties to head.

On the Labour side there are angry accusations that Sir Keir Starmer is parachuting in so-called Starmtroopers and "purging" left-wingers.

Rishi Sunak shocked his party as much as everyone else by calling an election.

The Conservatives are having trouble finding enough eligible candidates. Tory HQ was forced to email round last week asking for applications to stand in some 93 constituencies.

The total number standing down has not yet hit the record of 149, set in 1997, the year of New Labour's landslide victory after 18 years of Conservative rule.

The bad news for Mr Sunak is that a record number of Tories, nearly 80, are voting with their feet. They can read the opinion polls as well as anyone else.

Once an election is pending, party leaderships gain the upper hand in selecting who should stand in constituencies. There is no time for local hustings and votes in Constituency Labour Parties (CLPs) or Conservative Associations.

The Tories give a nod to party democracy during the "short campaign".

But the leadership has increased influence because it draws up the shortlist of candidates. The limited choice often leaves HQ accused of "imposing" a candidate.

Liz Truss, for example, owes her political career to being on David Cameron's so-called "A list" of preferred candidates.

Labour doesn't bother with the niceties. The party's National Executive Committee will meet on Tuesday and decide who will or will not stand for the party in this election. Starmer supporters now command a majority on the NEC.

Read more about the general election:
What happens now an election has been called?
Find your new constituency and how it's changed
How boundary changes make Starmer's job harder

There are around 100 seats with prospective parliamentary candidates (PPCs) still in need of final approval by the NEC.

Most of these are likely to be waved through. It is rare to exclude candidates in good standing. But it is within the rules.

Diane Abbott has had the Labour whip restored, but she may not be endorsed to stand again.

The handful of seats, most valued by the leadership, are those where they can parachute in their own people.

Since the general election was called 11 Labour MPs have announced they are standing down - starting with Kelly Lynch in Halifax and Yvonne Fovargue in Makerfield.

They are mostly giving up safe or highly winnable seats. Those who hold off and delay quitting until the leadership can decide who replaces them are often rewarded with peerages or other jobs outside the Commons.

Starmer and his closest advisers have wasted no time shepherding their allies into last minute vacancies.

Key members of the next generation of Labour MPs are being chosen effectively by two insiders, Morgan McSweeney, Labour’s campaign manager and Matthew Faulding, the secretary of the Parliamentary Labour Party.

Leading Starmtroopers Josh Simons, director of the Labour Together think tank and Luke Akehurst, secretary of Labour First and director of We Believe in Israel networks have been dropped into Makerfield and North Durham, respectively.

Sonia Kumar will fight Dudley, where Starmer launched his campaign. Connor Rand, from the moderate USDAW union, has been chosen in Altrincham and Sale and Calvin Bailey, in Leyton and Wanstead.

The leadership is flexing its influence over the final few outstanding constituency selections.

Georgia Gould, the leader of Camden Council and the daughter of the late Philip Gould, Tony Blair's strategist, has been selected in Queen's Park and Maida Vale.

Heather Iqbal, an adviser to shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves, will stand in Dewsbury and Batley.

In Rochdale, it is second time lucky for the journalist Paul Waugh. He will be up against the incumbent MP George Galloway, who snatched the seat in a by-election after Labour disowned its official candidate.

Gurinder Singh Josan, Abdi Duale and the NEC chair, James Asser are among other Starmerites expected to fill vacant seats.

They join other hopeful Labour candidates with a centrist New Labour past: Douglas Alexander, Emma Reynolds, Mary Creagh and Anna Turley are all bidding to return to the Commons.

Diplomat Hamish Falconer, son of Blair's lord chancellor, Charlie Falconer, is standing in Lincoln.

Starmer's allies old and new have demanded equal ruthlessness in dealing with the Corbynite left of the party.

New Labour grandee Peter Mandelson recommends "sealing the tomb and incinerating it as well". Luke Akehurst warns "we're going to have to be ready to scrap with these guys again".

On Starmer's watch, Jeremy Corbyn is out.

At least three other candidates have now been notified by Labour that they are unlikely to be able to stand for the party in the election: Lloyd Russell-Moyle in Brighton Kemptown, Faiza Shaheen in Chingford and Woodford and Apsana Begum in Poplar and Limehouse.

Read more:
The key seats to watch out for in the general election
Call to de-select Liz Truss over appearance on 'hateful platform'
Reform UK may be winning the first TikTok election

Voters make the final choice who becomes an MP. But internal purges to choose who has the right to represent the party are also a feature of British politics.

Neil Kinnock and Tony Blair battled the entryist Militant Tendency. Boris Johnson pushed out a score of pro-EU Tory MPs. Jeremy Corbyn used his influence to blackball a centrist candidate.

In this campaign, the Tory leadership has largely lost control of who is standing for the party, let alone who will actually make up the parliamentary party of MPs if the election delivers a massive cull of Conservative ranks.

Sunak has largely accommodated dissenters in his ranks. The journalist Michael Crick, who has been following selections, estimates that on balance new Tory candidates are more to the centre than those they are replacing.

But it is impossible to determine which of them will be left standing to determine the future of their party.

Sir Keir Starmer is riding high in Labour and in the opinion polls. He is seizing his opportunity to shape the party which he expects to lead into government. That means keeping as many internal critics away from parliament as he can.

Labour is running so strongly that it calculates it can shrug off any challenges from Corbynites, Momentum and the Greens, who have all latched on to Gaza to appeal to voters.

Starmer's allies have an unspoken hope that a strong line against the left may even bring in more centrist voters.

👉 Tap here to follow Politics at Jack at Sam's wherever you get your podcasts 👈

The new parliament will not look the same when MPs are sworn in.

Sir Keir Starmer's slogan is "change". For all the Conservatives standing down, one of the biggest changes he will have made is in the faces representing his new model Labour Party in parliament.