Culture Secretary Nicky Morgan has said she is standing down as an MP – because of the “clear impact” on her family and the abuse she has received.
In her resignation letter she said: “The abuse for doing the job of a modern MP can only be justified if, ultimately, parliament does what it is supposed to do – represent those we serve in all areas of policy, respect votes cast by the electorate and make decisions in the overall national interest.”
The Culture Secretary joined a raft of women leaving parliament citing abuse and the pressures of the job on their mental health or family.
But the Loughborough MP is the first member of Boris Johnson’s Cabinet to say they will not stand again.
She has represented Loughborough for the Conservatives since 2010 and was previously education secretary.
It laid bare the divisions inside the Conservative Party despite the party insisting they were united ahead of the general election .
It came as former Cabinet minister Amber Rudd announced she will not stand at the election.
But the ex-Home and DWP Secretary warned: “I’m not finished with politics. I’m just not standing at this election.”
Her ally and friend Health Secretary Matt Hancock had called for her to be allowed in.
The chief whip told her she would not be allowed back into the fold in case she turned on the Prime Minister again.
He told her “receipt of the whip is an honour, not a right and it cannot be discarded or returned at will.”
She insisted the PM asked her to stand “just last week” in the upcoming poll.
She said she “respects the decision he had been asked to make” – even though it means she won’t be allowed the whip back. Ms Rudd resigned in solidarity with 21 of her colleagues who were sacked from for voting to prevent a no-deal Brexit in September.
“Of those ten have now been offered the whip again. But 11 remain outside of the party.”
Two MPs Sam Gyimah and Phillip Lee crossed the floor to join the Liberal Democrats .
Antoinette Sandbach has said she will stand as an independent candidate in Eddisbury, campaigning for a referendum and Remain – and there was no offer to her to restore Conservative party whip.
Former Chancellor Philip Hammond has ramped up his criticism of the PM in recent days including saying that the real reason for the election was to purge the Conservative party of moderates like him.
When asked if he wanted the Conservatives to win the next election, Mr Hammond told the BBC’s Today programme: “I’ve been a member of the Conservative Party for 40 years and I’m agonising over this.
“It really doesn’t matter how many times my party kicks me, abuses me, reviles me, they’re not going to stop me feeling like a Conservative.
“I believe that my view of the world, my approach to what the Conservative Party should be, a party that stands for sound government, solid economic management, responsible fiscal management, I believe that that is where the Conservative Party has to be in the future and I’m not ready to give up fighting for the soul of the Conservative Party.”
Former Tory Attorney General Dominic Grieve is also standing as an Independent but the Liberal Democrats are standing aside for him in Beaconsfield.
Asked about the influence the group of Independents might have, he said: “I have no idea what influence we may have on this campaign.
“All I can do is go out to my electorate and say these are my beliefs.
“I’m a Conservative obviously.
“I think the direction which the party is going in is wrong.”
Meanwhile Rory Stewart is quitting to stand to be London Mayor.
Explaining his decision, he said: “This is not just about a movement away from national politics to local politics; it’s not just about what I would like to do for you in London, which is make you feel safer, make your commute better, make your housing more affordable.
“It’s actually about democracy itself.”