By Tim Montgomerie
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News reaches me that Sir John Stanley joins James Arbuthnot as a sitting Tory MP who has announced they won't seek re-election. In the past these retirements would have produced much excitement among those on the candidates list. In this parliament – with the number of MPs set to fall from 650 to 600 if the boundary review is approved – the spare seat will help the whips find a slot for one of Sir John's colleagues whose own seat might have disappeared or been changed beyond recognition. In Kent that's likely to be sports minister Hugh Robertson.
Sir John told his Tonbridge and Malling Conservative Association Association AGM of his intentions last night.
First elected in 1974 Sir John was PPS to Margaret Thatcher when she was Leader of the Opposition. He has served as a minister in the defence, housing and Northern Ireland portfolios.