A SOUTH Essex MP is to step down at the next General Election after 18 years as he looks forward to "new challenges". 

Sir James Duddridge, MP for Rochford and Southend East, has served as MP since 2005. 

Today, the 52-year-old confirmed he will be standing down. 

In a tweet, Sir James said; "I have notified my Association Chairman of my decision not to stand at the next General Election.

"It has been an honour to serve as the MP for Rochford and Southend East since 2005.

"I will continue to serve my constituents, and I look forward to new challenges."

Sir James most recently served as Minister of State for International Trade in the Truss government. He left government for a third time in October 2022, when newly appointed prime minister Rishi Sunak dismissed him.

He has since written a letter to the current Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, confirming his decision to now step down as an MP.

In the letter, he added: "It has been an honour to serve the people of Rochford and Southend East as their MP since 2005. 

"It is therefore with regret that I write to let you know that I will not be standing at the next General Election. 

"I joined the party in the late 80's under the great Margaret Thatcher. I have fought six General Elections and two local government elections, increasing the Conservative vote every time. 

"I think I have done my time. Forgive me for moving on to do other things. 

"I am grateful to many friends in Southend, Rochford, Westminster, and Africa who have helped me along this journey but now is the time for a new chapter. 

"I am looking forward to new challenges and that old cliché, to spending more time in Southend with my family."

More to follow.