Running the V&A, trying to stop Brexit, and preparing for the next election: what politicians who lost their seats or quit are up to now

AS the dust settles on a roller-coaster year in politics, many men and women are starting 2018 off in a completely different job than they began – adjusting to life after politics.

Ex-MPs who no longer prowl the corridors of power, heckle each other in PMQs and spend their days writing policies, gossiping and arguing with each other now have to find something else to fill their time. What are the MPs who quit or were booted out of their seats last year up to now?


Being a politician is pretty tiring, but so is editing a newspaper, it seems.

Since leaving No11 last year when he was sacked by Theresa May, George Osborne's been a little bit of a lost puppy, taking as many jobs as possible to see what he wants to do next.

He announced he would not re-run in the 2017 election, leaving former minister Esther McVey to stand in his Tatton constituency.

But the role he seems to be most enjoying – and the one making the most waves – is his job as Editor of the London Evening Standard.

He said after the shock announcement earlier this year: "“We will be fearless as a paper fighting for their interests. We will judge what the government, London’s politicians and the political parties do against this simple test: is it good for our readers and good for London? If it is, we’ll support them. If it isn’t, we’ll be quick to say so."

What are George Osborne's jobs?

Since he began there, he's enjoyed tweeting out the paper's splash every day, including some very amusing but rude cartoons about Mrs May's government.

And on election night he held nothing back, barely being able to hide his glee at the person who sacked him losing seats in parliament.

George might not be an MP anymore, but he's very much enjoying still being inside the Westminster bubble.

"That's nice," Jeremy Corbyn said when Tristram Hunt told him he was resigning as an MP to become Director of the Victoria & Albert Museum.

After seven years in Parliament, the former Shadow Education Secretary jumped at the chance to do something new, despite having never worked in a museum before.

It's much better paid though – his predecessor was on at least £145,000 – double what he was on as an MP.

Even though he described it as his "dream job", many of his fellow centrist Labour colleagues were sad to see him go and felt they'd been left in the lurch.

But in his resignation letter Hunt said life as an MP had been “ intensely frustrating” and he'd clashed with the leader on multiple occasions.

Hunt later told the Times: "It was exhausting. You are doing good things in your constituency, which was where I got pleasure and reward, but then in Westminster you were watching what the leadership was doing and it didn’t feel creative. It felt destructive and corroding and depressing.”

But now he insists he's "moved on" and won't be back, even though he "never thought Jeremy could do so well" in June's vote.

Does he ever miss it? “I had a little pang on polling day, just because of the rhythms of politics, but my seat remained Labour luckily.

"But I don’t feel any anxiety or that I could have come back or could have done better. I would be even worse off if I’d stayed after that election result. It would have been dreadful.”


Jamie Reed is more than happy to be out of the Westminster bubble to spend more time with his family, having a better work-life balance, and less time commuting between London and Copeland.

Although he still spends his Thursday nights shouting at Question Time like the rest of the public, he's glad he made the choice to quit.

"The truth is, I’m getting more done in my new role than I had been doing in Parliament I don’t regret it," he told The Sun.

"I’ve left Parliament but I haven’t left politics. Every time I switch on the TV and see what’s going on, I know I made the right decision."

Reed, who quit Parliament at the very end of 2016, said part of it was down to Jeremy Corbyn's "poisonous" politics.

"He should give up, go home and go away," Mr Reed wrote – but he couldn't have been more wrong.

The Tories went on to nick the seat from Labour in February – the first time they've held it since 1935.

But this was still the right choice for Reed – and he's still a self-confessed "political animal", always at the other end of the phone and tuned into the media.

"Being able to be around my family is priceless," he explains.

"The work-life balance in Westminster is one of the biggest problems – it puts ordinary people off coming into politics. It’s just such a bubble, the practise, conventions, working hours. It's weirdly designed to dislocate you from the people you represent and takes you away from real life.

"You have to step outside to see there is so much more… I like being a citizen again."


Gisela Stuart entered Parliament in 1997 with the intention of only doing one term as an MP in such a marginal seat. 20 years later, she's finally quit the Commons for good.

"I've approached every election saying 'this is the last one'," she told The Sun. "But life moves on, it is time to go… there comes to a point where you need to let the next generation in. 20 years is enough."

The Brexit-backing Labour MP has spent years trying to talk about anything but Europe, which is fitting as she's now the chair of Change Britain – an organisation set up out of the Vote Leave campaign to ensure Brexit is delivered.

"What came as a real surprise was how hard it was to bring the two sides together, and it still is… I felt there was a responsibility to carry on doing it.

"And I try and leave the politics to the politicians."

And outside of Westminster's walls?

"I have a weekend!" Stuart laughed. "There is a freedom now… If I don't like what's on the Today programme, I can just switch it off! It's like jumping off a wheel, it's liberating."

This has been a very important 20 years of my life, but your life goes on.

Also on the agenda is spending time building snowmen with her two young grandsons ("it's wonderful, the human condition") and going to and from Germany trying to explain the results of the referendum ("it took a long time to persuade them that we are really leaving. I think they get it now".)

But the biggest relief of being a little bit outside of the bubble is the space.

"You can think much more, you are no longer at the mercy of demands. You can decide what you do, pause, think. Sometimes politicians react too quickly."

Looking back at her two decade-long career comes with lessons, legacies and many fond memories.

"The bits where you managed to solve an injustice are the best," Stuart said. "Helping people to help themselves sticks in your mind."

Any advice to give, if she could speak to her 1997 self?

"You have to enjoy it, it's an enormous privilege. You owe it to yourself to use that privilege but remember… it's not about you."


One man who is definitely happy to see the back of Westminster is former Labour MP Michael Dugher.

"I get to go home now. I’m not climbing those stairs, listening to dreadful speeches, voting multiple times and never winning."

Despite only getting elected to Parliament in 2010, Dugher held a string of Shadow Cabinet jobs under Ed Miliband before being sacked in Jeremy Corbyn's first reshuffle over "fairly fundamental differences" with the new leader.

Dugher doesn't hold back over the party's "antisemitism" problem and conscious efforts to "undermine MPs" – which drove him out of the job.

"Opposition is incredibly hard work and a lot of it is futile," he told The Sun.

And today's state of the Labour party is no better, he said.

"The tone of the debate, the online abuse, the fake news, the Labour party, the mob mentality of organisations like Momentum… there’s a more civilised way of doing politics. 

"These days it's much easier to deselect councillors than kick out antisemites in the party… I wasn't prepared to put up with that hypocrisy anymore."

And he definitely doesn't miss his days campaigning on the doorstop.

"It's odd looking at politics from the outside – you realise how boring your Twitter is. Full of glum looking politicians, holding up posters in the rain and writing about how good it is – you can see the fibs flashed across their eyes."

Opposition is incredibly hard work and a lot of it is futile.

His biggest regret from his time in politics is the "failure of political leadership" that led to Brexit.

"I knew they would vote overwhelmingly to come out but I still campaigned to Remain," he said.

"People voted for Brexit as an act of defiance, anti politics, but we ended up defending the status quo. That was an obvious elephant trap that we all walked straight into.

"Britain faces the biggest challenge we have faced since World War II and I’m not sure that our political leadership on all sides of the House is up to it.

"We have such potential… it’s so frustrating and sad to see sometimes how divided we have become."

And the worst of these divides in society were revealed when his then-colleague Jo Cox was murdered by a right-wing fanatic last year – forcing him to think again about his own career.

"It became a symbol of the times, this terrible division, terrible atmosphere about the place," he said. "I thought 'I need to get out.'"

Being an MP is a "tough and thankless job", Dugher said, and he's more than thrilled to be representing the music industry full time these days, going to gigs every night and

"I've always been hugely passionate about music – music was and still is my obsession".

"I felt like I could do more difference outside than in. Being on the backbenches felt like a permanent state for Labour.

"I'm still involved in the political process – but not as an elected representative."

He notes successes since he's been in the job as helping to repeal form 696 – a process accused of unfairly targeting specific genres on a racial basis – and protect under-threat venues from shutting down.

"To be able to to help the music industry, experience it, work in it every day… It’s an amazingly rewarding job and I love every minute."


What's it like to actually lose your seat – especially when it's completely unexpected?

"Horrendous," Chris White told The Sun. "It's the bottom of the pit of despondent and despair.

"There are so many factors – is it you, is it the leader? Is it the party, is it the manifesto? Is it the other party, other leader, manifesto? So many variants. But it will be a while before anyone puts the words 'snap' and 'election' together again with the words ‘good’ and ‘idea’."

He only knew "something was seriously wrong" when his team saw the exit poll on Thursday evening.

By 4am on Friday June 9, he knew he'd lost out in Labour's surge – partly boosted by the number of students who turned out to back them in his area.

By Monday he was making preparations to leave, and packing up his office by the end of the week.

"It's not like an exam when you can resit it. It's a real blow. But I don't think there's much good in licking your wounds for too long. As a person, you know you have to get on with life."

It will be a while before people put the words 'snap' and 'election' together agin with the words 'good' and 'idea'.

As a former PPS to Theresa in the Home Office, the knock back was even bigger, but she called him "very kindly" just two days later to express her disappointment and apologise for the loss. But she is "resilient" and "made of stern stuff" – determined to carry on and see the job through, he said.

"Circumstances change very rapidly in politics, you can go from hero to zero, and become a heroine once again."

Since the election he's written two papers – one on industrial strategy, one on social value – been to Kuala Lumpur with the British Council to explore social enterprise, and has had the time to do a lot more reading.

But he misses the bustle of the corridors of power: "The speeches, the votes, the set pieces… It is the heart of the country. Whether we like it or not, the influences it has over our lives is huge."

And will he try and return to Westminster and win back his seat at the next general election, whenever that might be?

"I am still very passionate, I still think there are huge things to do," he says.

That’s a yes, then.


When party big beast Alex Salmond lost his seat in June, it must have been a big blow for himself and the SNP.

Since then he's not been seen out and about very much – but last month it was announced he will be presenting a new show on a Russian-backed TV network.

The former First Minister of Scotland will host a weekly show on RT, which is funded by the Kremlin.

But the move hasn't gone down well with SNP colleagues and rival politicians – who attacked him for allying himself with the channel, which has been repeatedly criticised by the broadcasting watchdog.

Nationalist MEP Alyn Smith said: "What the f*** is he thinking?"

Good luck Alex, you'll need it.

If you think getting kicked out of your seat by a Corbynista – who was later revealed to have posted a number of offensive messages online – means you have to leave politics altogether, think again.

Nick Clegg, formerly leader of the Liberal Democrats and the Deputy PM in the Coalition years, is still banging on about Brexit.

The Remainer hasn't stopped moaning about it since we voted to leave – and he's probably not likely to be quiet anytime soon.

He's written two books since his party were whittled down to just eight MPs in 2015 – Politics and How to Stop Brexit.

Mr Clegg's also been seen in Brussels meeting the EU's Chief Negotiator Michel Barnier – along with other Remainers Ken Clarke and Lord Adonis.

Expect him to cause more fury in 2018 among Brexiteers.

Other where are they nows:

David Cameron: writing his memoirs in a £25,000 shed and delivering very expensive speeches

Tony Blair: still whining about overturning Brexit, and has said he regrets opening the door to unlimited immigration” target=”_blank” title=”Click to share on Twitter

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