Cabinet minister to stand down at general election

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Northern Ireland Secretary Chris Heaton-Harris has said he will not be standing at the next general election.

The Tory MP said on X, formerly Twitter, it had been an “honour and a privilege to serve” and passed on his thanks to his constituents in Daventry.

Mr Heaton-Harris has been the Northern Ireland secretary since September 2022, describing it as the “best job in the Cabinet”.

He announced his intention in a letter to Prime Minister Rishi Sunak.

Mr Heaton-Harris was first elected as an MP in 2010. He was appointed Tory chief whip in 2022 by Boris Johnson.

Later that year, Liz Truss appointed him as secretary of state for Northern Ireland, a role he retained when Mr Sunak became prime minister.

At the time, the Stormont power-sharing institutions had collapsed due to a Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) protest against post-Brexit trading arrangements.

Much of his time in Northern Ireland was spent negotiating with parties in efforts to restore the assembly and executive.

‘I love the people’

In his letter to Mr Sunak, published on X on Saturday night, Mr Heaton-Harris said: “Working with you I helped negotiate and deliver the Windsor Framework, which both solved many of the major practical issues created by the Northern Ireland Protocol, put in place as we left the EU, and helped reset our countries’ relationship with our European neighbours.

“Then, after long and detailed negotiations within Northern Ireland, we produced the command paper Safeguarding the Union which resulted in the return of Stormont and devolved government to serve the people of Northern Ireland.”

Mr Heaton-Harris added: “I strongly believe the conditions now exist for Northern Ireland to thrive”.

Mr Heaton-Harris, who has been an MP for 14 years, said Northern Ireland had “privileged access for manufactured goods into the EU single market, whilst being an integral part of our UK internal market”

“It finds itself in a remarkable favourable position,” he added.

He added that he wanted to remain as Northern Ireland secretary until the next election as “there are still a number of pieces of unfinished business I wish to complete and I love the people, place and job”.

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