CABINET minister Michael Gove has announced he will not stand at the General Election.

The Housing Secretary joined a growing parliamentary exodus as he praised Rishi Sunak for espousing “the very best virtues” of the Tory party but said “it is time to leave”.

"After nearly twenty years serving the wonderful people of Surrey Heath and over a decade in Cabinet across five government departments, I have today taken the decision to step down as a Member of Parliament," he wrote on Twitter/X. 

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And in a letter to the chairman of the Surrey Heath Conservatives attached to the post, he said: “Thank you for your kindness earlier. As we discussed, I have decided today not to seek to represent Surrey Heath at the forthcoming General Election.

“Having the chance to serve as a Member of Parliament and Minister has been a profound privilege. As a child in Aberdeen I could never have imagined I would have the opportunity to sit in the Commons, let alone around the Cabinet table.

“My parents, who adopted me when I was four months old, brought me up to believe that the chance to help others is the greatest gift you can be given.

“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.”

Sunak’s decision to call a summer election surprised many in Westminster, who had been expecting an autumn poll.

The news has caused disquiet among some Tory MPs fearful of losing their jobs, and reports suggest some Cabinet ministers voiced concerns about the decision.