Exclusive: Harlow MP Robert Halfon to stand down at the next General Election

News / Tue 26th Mar 2024 at 04:00pm

HARLOW MP Robert Halfon has announced that he is standing down as MP for Harlow at the next General Election.

He has also announced that he is standing down as the Minister for Skills, Apprenticeships and Higher Education with immediate effect.

Mr Halfon wrote to the Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak informing him of the decision. He also wrote a letter to the chair of the Harlow Conservative Association (HCA), Mike Garnett. Both letters are below.

Mr Halfon spoke exclusively with the editor of YourHarlow in London on Monday and wanted our readers the chance to hear of his departure first. As you may see from both letters, he simply says: “It is time”. As well as a quote form his beloved Lord of the Rings.

We shall be conducting a filmed interview in due course, where we plan to go into more details.

Mr Halfon was first selected as a Conservative candidate in 1999. He lost two General Elections in 2001 by 5,228 and 2005 by 95 before winning in 2010 (4,925), 2015 (8,350), 2017(7,031) and 2019 (14,063).

Later this week, he will become the longest serving MP for the constituency of Harlow since it was formed in 1974.

His letters are below. In both letters, Mr Halfon details his work over the past fourteen years, both as a constituency MP but also as a minister. He is especially proud of his work in education.

He appears determined to spend the weeks or months that are left in this parliament, championing the causes that he feels will be best for the people of Harlow.

Over the next few days, we will be gauging reaction from around the town, looking back on his career in Harlow as well as looking at who may be in the running to be parliamentary candidate.

Robert Halfon’s Letter to the Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak

Robert Halfon’s Letter to the Chair of the HCA

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51 Comments for Exclusive: Harlow MP Robert Halfon to stand down at the next General Election:

2024-03-26 16:11:29

I will say while I have sparred with him and wish he was more conservative, I wish him well and he did work hard for Harlow (not everything is easy to deliver, in large organisations something people often forget when on the side lines) and always championed apprenticeships. If he fancies being an apprentice engineer drop me a line, Rob ;)

Fair play
2024-03-26 16:30:17

Is it because this group of so called Conservatives are nothing but racist baiting incompetents and to represent them is disgraceful. There is a good tory party. This is not it. They are useless and competing to be the most disgusting and ineffectual party ever seen.

2024-03-26 16:56:53

Whatever side of the political fence you sit, Rob has been a great MP for Harlow, he will be missed.

2024-03-26 17:01:52

The hardest working MP of anywhere. The trouble is that this Country is run by LEFTIES now. You only have to look at the doctors strike. They wont get 30% pay rise and they know it, they are doing it to bring a Tory Government down. Good luck Robert! We will all need it now.

Ray Little
2024-03-26 17:01:53

The ship is leaving the sinking rat.

2024-03-26 17:11:19

Do you think Dan Swords is getting tempted

Nicholas Taylor
2024-03-26 17:19:16

No sign of the new hospital, no sign of what was formerly known as Public Health England coming to Harlow, the creation of flat blocks such as at Terminus House and a failed immigration system are all legacies which our town is left with and our MP must be accountable for.

Joanne Revitt
2024-03-26 17:28:44

Robert will be a huge loss for Harlow. A true gentleman, true to his constituents whatever their political persuasion.

robert patterson
2024-03-26 17:30:25

I consider Robert Halfon as one of the very few MPs who fully understand how hard life can be. He has to face that hardness every hour he is awake. He is the only MP that I know that I would want to give my vote to in 2024. Whatever did not get done for Harlow under his watch was not for his lack of effort. It was due to the leaderships of the Conservative Party.

Ross Young
2024-03-26 17:48:14

Robert Halfon is far better that the party is leaving behind.

David Guest
2024-03-26 17:48:21

Ron, I think the doctors, like a lot of other groups, are fed up with their pay being reduced every year by successive Conservative governments as a matter of policy. Train drivers on £100k a year I read yesterday. I think junior doctors deserve that.

David Amith
2024-03-26 18:05:08

No new hospital. Schools crumbling down. Can’t see doctors. Harlow families priced out of town. Fuel through the roof. SEND provision failing Essex. Our town more politically divided than ever. Is that a good legacy?

Les Bayliss
2024-03-26 18:13:39

Well I’m not surprised. The local Tory infighting would have identified the lack of focus needed to campaign in Harlow. I’m assuming Halfon has found another job to go to, probably supporting the Isreal position in Gaza and Palestine. The Tories always try to divide and rule, being successful at it for 14 years. The game is up, better run for the hills, together with Halfon.

2024-03-26 18:25:07

Mixed bag for me, not a Cons voter, at all, as I value the NHS. But, he did actually try and help me out with a problem, but only when the police got involved too - He did little before that but still appreciate the help that came eventually.. Anyway, good luck to him, can't blame any cons MP's for leaving a sinking ship, but wish a lot more of the better cons MP's had stopped the rot that set in the party and spoke up against all the horrible policies and the waste of our money. I can't remember it ever being as bad as it is now.

2024-03-26 18:27:28

Ron, goodness me, the cons are not lefties. They've been in power for the last 14 years, stop making stuff up please.

peter henegan
2024-03-26 18:28:12

So was this a surprise to the Harlow conservatives? Are we going to see Dan Swords running for parliament? Is it a case of "leaving a sinking ship"? There was me thinking politics had gone quiet!

2024-03-26 18:28:53

While I'm sure that Robert Halfon is a good man, he and his party's legacy after 14 years in power is appalling. The NHS in tatters; schools crumbling: difficulties getting GP appointments and NHS dentists; cutting the number of police officers; failed immigration measures; local councils going bankrupt; the state of our roads to name but a few. And his own voting record - cutting free school meals and the massive cuts in public services leaves a lot to be desired. Good riddance to him, and hopefully to his chaotic Government too very soon.

Dan Long
2024-03-26 19:06:02

Good luck for your future plans Robert.

Bruce Downey
2024-03-26 19:06:22

HAPless one man party, N Taylor..usual badmouthing..

2024-03-26 19:17:41

I believe had Robert stood again he would have won again with the new boundary changes & one only has to look what a poor performance Chris Vince puts in on the council! I hope Labour don't win the seat of Harlow they will be poorly served!

Kim Oconnor
2024-03-26 19:27:24

I believe Mr halfon is a good man, and I wish him well. Even though, we haven't seen what was promised, I wish you well.

2024-03-26 19:47:55

I don't agree with his politics or the way the town has been allowed to decline but I wish him the best.

2024-03-26 20:02:03

Resident - the town declined due to the council not the MP

2024-03-26 20:05:45

Adam - the he was a member of the gov, who give out the money. Unless you've not seen in the news, cuts by gov to all councils has been going on some time. So he does have something to do with it, being a cons MP.

2024-03-26 20:33:43

Trace - we should be cutting council and government spending the state is far too big and intrusive. The town is a mess as when Labour where in office for a decade and did nothing but rant like students in the 1970's

John Solomon
2024-03-26 22:38:39

As Robert Halfon is an active member of the 'Friends of Israel' has he resigned because the UK government voted in favour of the UN motion calling for an immediate cease fire by Israel and Hamas on Gaza to which the USA abstained. The Israeli Government is extremely annoyed by the UN vote and I imagine so is Robert Halfon who supported Israel despite over.30 thousand Palestinians in Gaza being killed by the Israeli so called defense forces.

2024-03-26 22:40:37

He has done alot for harlow and sad his stepping down from our town. Only reason I've supported Conservative because of him being our MP.

Mark Gough
2024-03-26 23:10:03

For the locking of horns I have done with Robert from my time as a blue, and my time as a purple it was never boring. From his selection meeting, to the first meeting we had to attend together with a private hire taxi firm, to sharing a platform and ballot paper in 2019 it was always interesting. From disagreements to agreements it was usually done in gentlemanly manner. I admire what he did fighting for apprenticeships, but dislike his liking for yes men. Robert, I wish you well, and hope you and Vanda enjoy your retirement!

2024-03-27 03:22:54

Reform Party. End of

Chris Mitchell
2024-03-27 04:06:34

Very best wishes to Robert for the future. However, it is now time for both Harlow and the country to embrace Reform UK as the only patriotic option to save our culture from oblivion.

Bruce Downey
2024-03-27 05:09:42

Another one to add to the mix 😵‍💫 1/ All out local elections 2/ General election 3/ In between a new Tory candidate to stand in Harlow..Who’s in the frame?? 🤷‍♂️

2024-03-27 06:09:36

Adam, what an awful way of thinking, cutting council funds. Those funds are needed for so many things in society. I guess you are a hard tory... who would prob moan when their bins are not collected and can't get their elderly parents any social care if they have a fall. I bet you would vote to take away tents for the homeless, while councils can't afford social housing. Sigh.

Nicholas Taylor
2024-03-27 06:26:28

Trace, spot on about Adam's comments. I sometimes wonder whether those people with such views have any understanding of how society would come to an end without hard working staff in councils. Who do they think collect and recover housing rent payments, inspect food establishments, deal with licences such as taxi and alcohol sales, who writes contracts for services such as bin collections, dealing with legal issues, employing and firing of staff, dealing with housing benefit and Council tax benefit, social care, housing maintenance, planning applications and many more?

2024-03-27 08:11:22

And we need a great big town hall in prime retail space to do all that do we? Move the offices to an office block or work from home, use the Harvey Centre for the Gibberd Gallery. Town Halls are a concept moulded in a previous era. A smaller state (with safeguards for the most vulnerable) and lower taxes will encourage work and enterprise. Make people work for their benefits so the community gets something in return.

2024-03-27 08:39:16

Pete, I've been to several meetings at the town hall, how would that work without it? I don't suppose I'd fit 40 people in my living room.. and your 'make people work for the benefits', does that apply to all? Disabled? Someone undergoing chemo? Someone with severe mental probs who are waiting a couple years to see someone (because the tories have cut funding there), or perhaps someone who needs a hip replacement, can't work and is on a 2 year waiting list for the NHS (because the tories have destroyed the NHS)... etc.

2024-03-27 08:42:29

Nicholas Taylor, I don't think people bother to educate themselves. It's almost parrot fashion, repeating some hard line lies they've seen in the press or social media, without looking into it properly and finding out facts. The whole political system is like this, blinkered blind belief without any substance or truth.

2024-03-27 08:47:45

He has the gall to quote Gandalf, when he should be quoting Wormtongue. Ghastly little apologist, and I'll be glad to see the back of him.

2024-03-27 08:54:16

Trace, find an office block with a meeting room. Of, course, working for benefits couldn't apply to everyone, but take your hip replacement example-notwithstanding most would be retired, there are desk jobs. Just ask why someone on unemployment benefit should not actually do work for the community. I can tell you, as a former employer, when recruiting,candidates in a job always appealed more those out of work. I am also not tory, i find them appalling, nationally

Mark Watson
2024-03-27 08:58:01

In 2010 public satisfaction with the NHS was 70%, the highest ever recorded. Report by the Nuffield Trust out today shows public satisfaction with the NHS is now at an all time low of 23% after 14 years of underfunding. People’s lives are blighted because they can’t get the treatment they desperately need. That is not a legacy to be proud of. The NHS was created after WW2 when this country was bankrupt, if we could find the money for it under those circumstances then we could find the money to fund it now. Your government has consistently underfunded all public services and literally everything is broken. Your work on expanding apprenticeships is to be commended but for me your legacy is a Britain broken by austerity and impoverished by Brexit. I will also never forget that you voted against allowing gay marriage. My problem was not your vote, that is a matter of conscience but the reasons you gave in saying that you were voting against gay marriage because you had listened to your constituents, as if all Harlow residents narrow minded bigots.

2024-03-27 09:06:26

Is he going before being voted out. The Tories are the party in power with the majority of MP's. If more MP's stood up for what is best for their constituents and questioned this despicable government then maybe we would have a fairer society. Charity begins at home. Sort UK out now . By the way , good luck on your retirement Robert.

2024-03-27 09:20:15

When you interview him can you ask him why has he stepped down as a minister straight away? Surely he'd want to stay in the job a bit longer to try and deliver the policies he cares so much about in the months that are left. Yet another new minister will be able to achieve absolutely nothing while he learns his brief - then it's election time. Pointless waste of time.

2024-03-27 10:15:58

Pete, book a room for a meeting. Do you know how many meetings they have per week? They do them in the evening too... So, what's it going to cost to hire every time there's a meeting? There's a far better solution to that - it's called a town hall. Also, I know working age people who need hip and knee replacements. Other ailments around have forced people onto benefits because of the NHS backlog, this is what happens. One last thing, of all the things to pick up on as a possible waste of money, you chose a town hall! It's rather ridiculous where there has been billions wasted by this gov, literally billions of our money that should be used to our benefit.

2024-03-27 10:44:24

Trace, I think you have supported my point. You are saying the town hall is an enormous meeting room but in a prime retail space. Put it in an industrial area where rental costs are far cheaper. And I think you are nit picking rather than seeing a much bigger picture. And are you saying we don't need to save money locally because of all the waste elsewhere. That seems absurd. Every pound saved means lower taxes or more for services or paying down the national debt. I have no idea how many people are on benefits because of the backlog but I agree there will be some. Didn't the NHS waste a fortune on poor IT systems, healthcare seems brilliant, admin questionable.

Guy Flegman
2024-03-27 10:45:22

Sadly being a politician has become a such a thankless task that only a masochist would want to do it. Let’s face it, it’s almost impossible for them to get anything done because the system is so chaotic and if they do get anything done everyone thinks they have done the wrong thing. It is hardly surprising that good people are leaving politics. And so the standard keeps going down. Good luck with your future efforts Mr Halfon, at least you gave it your best shot.

2024-03-27 13:02:37

Unfortunately Robert’s legacy in the town is not great- crumbling schools when he voted in 2011 to stop ‘ Building schools for the future’ with Gove. NHS gone from excellent public satisfaction in 2010 to poor satisfaction in 2024. Sir Frederick Gibberd college debacle from the DFE etc etc. I could go on… As a constituency mp he helped me on some individual issues and was effective. He cared about skills and apprenticeships. Ultimately he was a too keen supporter of a party that is by a long stretch the worst in living memory. I’m pleased he’s finally left and wish him well in what he does next.

2024-03-27 13:17:37

Pete, the cost of a town hall is pennies compared to the billions wasted by this gov. Your point is moot.

Ian McNaught
2024-03-27 13:28:21

I agree with Les Bayliss , we need a strong council and Government to get this country back on its feet.

Fact or Fiction
2024-03-27 13:49:59

Politics aside – Checks and balances are fundamental elements of constitutional democracy. They prevent any one individual or institution from holding unconstrained power, and ensure that a wide range of views and interests are represented in the democratic process. - Checks and balances ensure that policy is carefully tested, helping to improve the quality of decision-making. They also ensure that mechanisms exist for preventing or penalising unethical behaviour. - Checks and balances thereby play a vital role in maintaining public confidence in the political system. The government has a particular responsibility to uphold them. Vote in any political party with a massive majority and they then have carte blanche i.e., complete freedom to act as they wish and checks and balances falls by the wayside. In more recent years, mix in the financial crash in 2008 due to the deregulation of the finance sector, a global pandemic and Russia deciding it was time to flex their muscles and the uprising of trade unionism again, and it doesn’t matter what party is in place, would the outcomes be any different? Does the election and voting system need a major overall in order to ensure fair and equitable representation for all, not just the views of the majority party of the time? This story is of Robert Halfon giving substantial service, sometimes good, sometimes (maybe) not so good, but none-the-less with good heart and genuine intentions, but he is only one of 650 members (MP’s) so is perhaps not in a position to put the world to right… He is a person first and a politician second and maybe a simple thank you for his service and in true Jeremy Clarkson fashion, ‘anyway moving on!’

2024-03-28 06:21:50

Tories have ruined the country whilst making the rich considerable richer. Harlow is litterally becoming a dump infront of our eye's, mr halfon has backed the party on most ways.. Mr halfons and his party's legacy is one of austerity, cuts to services. And a general lowering of peoples living standards and mental health.. Lets not forget the financial. Expenses for hotel rooms with girlfriends.. Tories out but too late.. The dept will cripple us for generations.

2024-03-28 14:16:57

I think you all should wait and see how Labour get on running the country if they get in , before you continue , slating the Tories. You may find it's better the devil you know , it seems labour are going to continue doing some of the things the Tories are already doing. Plus they want to give the unions more power to legally allow them to strike . So I wonder what all you anti Tories will say when you can't get to work when there is no train at all , when your electric is cut off , when there is no buses running , the doctors and nurses permanently on strike , the dustmen not collecting your rubbish , are you old enough to remember the winter of discontent, when James Callanghan was pm.(Labour)all because the all too powerful unions are holding the country to ransom . Let's see what you moaners say then.

Dan Glover
2024-04-01 06:41:28

Well since living in Harlow 18 yrs now, I’ve asked Robert for help and he doesn’t even dignify with an email or call , it’s proven he only comes out of his office only if it’s a photo shoot opportunity!!! Which sums him up , so it’s a pleasant surprise that he is standing down give someone else a genuine chance

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