Nick Gibb has said he is “proud” of his record as schools minister as he steps down, but warned of “growing cynicism and hostility to those who stand for election”.
The long-serving minister announced today he will step down at this week’s reshuffle to pursue a diplomatic role after the next election.
In his letter to Jacky Pendleton, the chair of his local Conservative association in Bognor Regis and Littlehampton, he said that his “passion for ensuring that every child gets the best possible education will remain with me until my dying day”.
He also said he will miss his work “as a minister who (oddly I am told) loves the incessant demands of policy papers that fill the red boxes”.
Here’s his letter, in full:
Following our conversation earlier, I am writing formally to let you know that I have, after many months of careful thought, decided not to stand for re-election at the next general election.
It has been an honour and a privilege to represent the people of Bognor Regis and Littlehampton in Parliament over the last 26 years. I have enjoyed every moment as a constituency MP, getting to know thousands of people who live in this wonderful stretch of coastal West Sussex.
The two seaside towns of Bognor Regis and Littlehampton and the villages in between and beyond are home to hard-working, generous-spirited people who I admire and have been proud to represent. Strong ties of community and civic pride unite the constituency.
The volunteers who selflessly give up their time to help others, who run associations and clubs and the thousands of small and medium sized businesses that are the life blood of the community make this small part of Sussex very special. There is nowhere else I’d rather call home.
Since 1997 I have been supported in the Bognor Regis and Littlehampton Conservative Association by many wonderful people, not least our former party agent, Hilary Flynn and former Conservative Association chairmen, Group Captain Alec Ingle, Colonel Brian Garrard, Jean Rose, Gill Brown, Ash Patel, David Britton, Geoffrey Walker and, of course, you.
I have made life-long friends across the Association and will be forever grateful for their kindness and support.
‘I always sought to represent everyone’
As a local member of parliament, I have always sought to represent everyone, regardless of whether they voted for me or support me, and I’ve tried my best to help people with their particular issues and problems.
Modern life is complicated, where a lazy response by an uncaring official with bureaucratic or commercial authority can so easily frustrate or blight the lives of individuals seeking their help.
Challenging that insouciance and providing support for people facing such problems is something I have, over the years, relished and made a personal priority.
I look back with pride and some personal satisfaction that I have been able to help smooth paths and bring people together to help resolve problems. And I cherish and rejoice at the friendships I have made throughout the constituency.
I have hugely enjoyed my ten years as schools minister, helping to ensure that education policy is driven by the evidence and the most effective ways of teaching children.
‘Proud’ of reading accomplishments
I am proud to have brought that approach to the way children are taught to read and proud that England’s children can now boast of being some of the most accomplished readers in the world.
Although I love being schools minister, and my passion for ensuring that every child gets the best possible education will remain with me until my dying day, I have also decided that now is the right time for me to step down as a minister and the prime minister has agreed that I can do so at the next reshuffle.
I shall miss so much of my work, both as a minister who (oddly I am told) loves the incessant demands of policy papers that fill the red boxes and as a member of parliament and the constituents who I have enjoyed serving.
I am grateful beyond measure to the people of Bognor Regis and Littlehampton who have voted for me and to the four Prime Ministers who trusted me enough to appoint me a minister, particularly David Cameron who gave me my first opportunity to serve as a minister of state when we first came into office in 2010- and whose courage and determination enabled Michael and me and many thousands of others to marry.
No element of my political career would have happened without the love and support of my brilliant, principled and adorable husband and companion of 37 years.
‘Long-term issues to address’
Over my 26 years as an MP our country has changed a great deal. The last 15 years in particular have presented huge challenges.
The global financial crisis of 2008, Brexit, the Covid pandemic, the war in Ukraine and conflict in the Middle East have put a strain on political systems around the world.
In Britain there are significant long-term issues to address, such as ensuring that young people can afford to buy homes, getting the economy growing consistently, tackling the ever-widening gap in incomes, dealing with the increasing pressures facing the NHS and addressing the unfairness that people encounter every day when dealing with public services and private monopolies.
I remain an optimist and I believe that the answers to these challenges will be found by thinkers and politicians of the centre-right, but I worry that growing cynicism and hostility to those who stand for election and hold office is damaging our ability to come together to solve problems.
At the age of 63, I still have the energy and commitment to continue public service.
In recent weeks, a new opportunity to serve the country in a diplomatic role has arisen. It would be something that would offer me a new intellectual challenge and I am honoured to be considered for the role by the prime minister, whose leadership I support with great enthusiasm.
Finally, I’d like to say thank you to everyone in Bognor Regis and Littlehampton for your kindness and support to Michael and me over the years.
Thank you, Jacky, for your energetic leadership of the Bognor Regis and Littlehampton Conservative Association which gives me the confidence to know that the Conservative cause will remain strongly supported in this constituency.
Rt Hon Nick Gibb MP