Rishi Sunak has been struck by another ministerial resignation as energy minister Graham Stuart, pictured left, has announced he is standing down from his cabinet-ranking D-ESNZ ministerial role as deputy to energy secretary Claire Coutinho.

Downing Street announced on Friday afternoon that Stuart’s role will be now filled by Justin Tomlinson, MP for Swindon North.

Critics noted that Stuart’s Parliamentary record has included being made to fly home from the last COP climate summit in Dubai to vote in favour of the Conservatives’ Rwanda bill and then to fly back, a round trip of nearly 7,000 miles.

Stuart, 62, told the PM in a letter dated yesterday that he is “proud to have served” in Sunak’s government but is stepping aside to focus on local issues affecting his Humberside constituency.

Stuart was first elected as MP for Beverley and Holderness, north of Hull, in 2005. At the 2019 General Election, he was returned with a majority of almost 16,000 over Labour.  But plummeting Conservative popularity has led one predictive website, Electoral Calculus, to forecast the seat now has a 74% chance of going Labour at this year’s general election.

The father of two, who has served in the government for eight years, said he will “fully support” the Prime Minister from the back benches.  He was appointed as D-ESNZ minister of state in September 2022.

Stuart said he now also hopes to focus on improving access to dentistry and healthcare and working with farmers on flooding.

In a statement, the Tory MP said: “I’m proud to have served in the government for most of the past eight years, but now it’s time to focus on Beverley and Holderness.

“I’m proud to have achieved much over the past 18 years, from rock armour at Withernsea to saving East Riding Community Hospital, installing life-saving defibrillators in rural communities and slashing fares on the Humber Bridge.

“I’m looking forward to working with communities to make our roads safer, helping the council take full advantage of the opportunities brought by devolution, pressing the case for York to Hull Rail and improving healthcare in Beverley and Holderness.”

The resignation comes as Sunak battles devastating approval ratings, with the Tories trailing more than 20 points behind Labour.

A recent MRP poll from YouGov showed that the party could suffer a bigger landslide defeat than that seen by John Major in 1997, with as many as 11 cabinet ministers braced to lose their seats.

More than 63 Tory MPs have announced they are standing down at the next election, including former prime minister Theresa May, former Chancellor Sajid Javid, former Environment Secretary George Eustice, Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross and former Justice Secretary Dominic Raab.

Before his role as energy and Net Zero minister, Stuart had also served in the Foreign Office, and the Department for International Trade.

Stuart was born in Carlisle. He attended school in Scotland before going to Selwyn College, Cambridge University to read philosophy and law.  Entrepreneurship in publishing then followed.

CORRECTION: This story originally & erroneously stated the new energy minister Justin Tomlinson is the current illegal migrants’ minister.  That is Michael Tomlinson MP.

Since election for Swindon North in 2010, Justin Tomlinson MP has served in junior ministerial roles at the Department of Work & Pensions and for the Conservative Party as a deputy chairman.

Reportedly while studying at Oxford Brookes University in the late 1990s, Justin Tomlinson  and fellow student Chris Kelly both placed £50 bets with William Hill that either would become Prime Minister by the year 2038. At odds of 10,000:1 then accepted, Tomlinson stands to collect £500,000 if successful.

In 2016, Tomlinson made a ‘full and unreserved apology’ and was suspended from the Commons from two days, after he admitted leaking a draft copy of a report on payday loans to an employee of Wonga, the high interest lender.  The then disabilities minister kept that job.  Tomlinson had been a member of the influential Public Accounts committee at the time of the rule breach in 2013.

In 2014, Tomlinson reported the then Labour shadow justice secretary Sadiq Khan to police for allegedly using his mobile phone while in charge of a motor vehicle. No prosecution ensued.

Tomlinson voted for Brexit, as did 57% of his constituents who voted at the 2016 referendum.   Today the predictive website Electoral Calculus forecasts that Swindon North stands a 79% chance of flipping to Labour at this year’s expected general election.



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