Former cabinet minister George Eustice has become the latest Conservative to announce plans to stand down as an MP at the next general election.
The former environment secretary had spoken out against the “not very good deal” post-Brexit trade deal struck he helped push through after leaving cabinet last year.
Mr Eustice, 51, said he will not be challenging to retain the seat of Camborne and Redruth, in Cornwall, so he can pursue a “final career outside politics”.
He follows more than a dozen senior Tories and rising stars in announcing their exit plans from the Commons at the general election expected in 2024.
Their moves come as Rishi Sunak struggles to recover from dire polling which currently puts Labour more than 20 points clear, with many Tories despondent about the chances of winning the next election.
Mr Eustice, a former ally of David Cameron who served under Boris Johnson, has held his seat since 2010. At the last general election in 2019 won a comfortable, 8,700 vote majority over second placed Labour.
In a statement explaining when he had decided not to fight for his seat again, the Tory moderate said he will have been in politics for 25 years at the time of the next election.
“I will also be 53 and I want the opportunity to do a final career outside politics so have decided not to seek re-election. This has been a difficult decision for me,” he said.
“I feel a deep bond to the area where my family have lived for over 400 years … but it is important that the Conservatives are able to select a new candidate in good time,” he said.
Mr Eustice added: “There are still almost two years left of the current parliament and I will be doing my utmost throughout that time to help my constituents and deliver for Cornwall.”
The former minister admitted in the Commons in November that the Tory government “gave away far too much for far too little in return” when the Australian trade deal was struck.
Mr Eustice also said that the UK “did not actually need” to give Australia nor New Zealand full liberalisation in beef and sheep – appearing to substantiate reports of a “ferocious row” with Liz Truss over the matter at the time.
At least 15 current Tory MPs including former chancellor Sajid Javid, Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross and Dehenna Davison, whose future in the party had seemed bright, are planning to stand down.
Former health secretary Matt Hancock, who was a Conservative until he lost the whip over his I’m A Celebrity appearance, will also be quitting the Commons.
Each have given their own reason for their departures, but the prospect of a poor electoral performance by the Tories at the next election, due before the end of January 2025, is seen as helping to force their hands.