A south Essex MP is set to step down at the next general election after 23 years as the search is now on for a new Tory candidate.

Having served as the MP for Billericay and District from 2001 and then Basildon and Billericay from 2010, John Baron is now standing down.

The Basildon and Billericay Conservative Association will now start looking for a candidate in time for the next general election, which must be held by January 2025.

Mr Baron said: “Although I continue to believe the Prime Minister will win the next general election given his competence and compassion, after what will be 23 years’ service I have decided the time has come for me to move on.

“It has been a great honour and privilege to serve my constituents, and I thank all for their support and kindness over the years. I have been lucky to make many friends.

“I thank all members of my Conservative Association for their trust and support, and leave happy in the knowledge that, in comparison to 2001, we are in a much better place. The association is strong, we have many excellent councillors and residents have increasingly placed their trust in us.

“There is an abundance of goodwill. Nationally, our exit from the EU is now embedded and the country is doing well economically with inflation coming down, wages rising and record employment.

“I also leave believing our political system is serving the nation well, whatever the cynics may say. In that vein, I thank all those who work in parliament to ensure its smooth running – from the doorkeepers and clerks to the catering and cleaning staff. Their roles are essential in the functioning of this great institution.

“I also thank my excellent team – both past and present. My constituency team has been with me since I became the MP and my London team for up to 15 years. 80 years of service between them is a rarity in politics. The job is a team effort – MPs can not function if their teams do not share a belief in public service. I am very proud of them all.”