Northern Ireland Secretary Chris Heaton-Harris says he will not stand for re-election

Chris Heaton-Harris Credit: PA Wire/PA Images

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

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

He also thanked Rishi Sunak as well as former prime ministers Theresa May, Boris Johnson and Liz Truss and said it would be an "honour" to continue as NI Secretary.

He added that he would be continuing to campaign for the Conservatives as the “only party that has and can deliver for the whole of the United Kingdom”.

Mr Heaton-Harris was first elected as an MP in 2010. A fierce Eurosceptic, he was appointed Tory chief whip in 2022 by Mr 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 DUP protest against post-Brexit trading arrangements, and much of his time in Northern Ireland was spent negotiating with parties in efforts to restore the Assembly and Executive.

During that time, Mr Heaton-Harris passed a budget to keep Stormont departments working in the absence of minsters and was also closely associated with the passing of the Government’s controversial Bill to deal with the legacy of the Northern Ireland Troubles.

The Stormont Executive returned in February of this year.

In his letter to Mr Sunak, 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.

“I strongly believe the conditions now exist for Northern Ireland to thrive, with privileged access for manufactured goods into the EU single market, while being an integral part of our UK internal market and being able to benefit from the international trade deals we negotiate; it finds itself in a remarkable favourable position – and as Northern Ireland thrives, our Union will strengthen.”

Mr Heaton-Harris added: “I know we are not far from a general election, an election in which I will do everything I can to see you returned as Prime Minister, I would be honoured if you allowed me to continue as Secretary of State for Northern Ireland until that time.

“There are a still a number of pieces of unfinished business I wish to complete and I love the people, place and job, but obviously would understand if you feel it best to replace me.”

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