Southend and Rochford MP Sir James Duddridge is set to step down at the next General Election after 18 years in Parliament.

Sir James, MP for Rochford and Southend East, has served as MP since 2005. Today, he has confirmed he will be standing down. 

His full letter to Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has now been released.

"It has been an honour to serve the people of Rochford and Southend East as their Member of Parliament 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," Sir James writes.

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

"I have served under three Prime Ministers as a Whip for four years, Minister for Africa for four years, Brexit Minister seeing through the Withdrawal Act through the Commons, Minister of State for Trade and as Boris Johnson's PPS. I think I have done my time. Forgive me for moving on to do other things.

"I am grateful to the 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."

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