One of Reading’s MPs has announced he will not stand in the next general election, ending a long parliamentary career.

COP26 President Sir Alok Sharma has said it has not been “an easy decision”.

The news came in a letter to the Conservative Association of the Reading West & Mid Berkshire, a new parliamentary seat that was formed this year ready for the next general election.

He recently criticised Rishi Sunak’s announcement of exemptions and delays to several key green policies.

Sir Alok said: “I have informed my local Conservative Association that I have decided not to stand at the next General Election and therefore do not seek to be adopted as the Conservative candidate for the revised seat of Reading West & Mid Berkshire.

“This has not been an easy decision for me. It has been the honour of my life to serve as the MP for a constituency in the town where I grew up and a privilege to serve in Government and represent the UK on the international stage.

“My grateful thanks to all the constituents, local organisations, charities and businesses I have had the pleasure of working with, since being selected as the parliamentary candidate in 2006, as we have campaigned together on a whole range of issues to make our local area a better place to live and work.

“I will continue to support my Conservative colleagues and serve my constituents diligently for the remainder of my time as an MP, as well as champion in Parliament the causes I care deeply about, especially climate action.”

Sir Alok will remain as the MP for Reading West until parliament is suspended so the next general election can take place.

He has been an MP since the election in 2010, when he gained the Reading West seat for the Conservatives, receiving 20,523 votes to Labour hopeful Naz Sarkar’s 14,519, a majority of 6,004 votes.

Reading West had been held by Labour’s Martin Salter from 1997 to 2010.

As an MP, Sir Alok served in elite positions in government.

He served as secretary of state for International Development from 2019 to 2020, secretary of state for Business Energy and Industrial Strategy from 2020 to 2021, and recently served as the President of the COP26 Climate Conference held in Glasgow in November 2021.

The COP26 Presidency saw him travel throughout the world to encourage foreign governments to take meaningful action to reduce carbon emissions.

He was knighted for this work in the 2023 New Years Honours List

As an MP in Reading West, Sir Alok has toured businesses in his constituency, has been spotted at the town’s annual Bastille Day (a celebration of French culture) and has supported charities such as Smart Works, which gives women in business a confidence boost by providing smart attire and training.

Earlier this year, he welcomed upgrades taking place at Theale Station.

His decision not to stand means the  Reading West & Mid Berkshire Conservative Association must now pick a parliamentary candidate.

It also guarantees that the area will be represented by a new MP.