Prime Minister Rishi Sunak will be forced into a mini-reshuffle after two government ministers resigned from their positions and announced they would not contest the next election.

Robert Halfon and James Heappey have both quit the government, the latter having already stated his intention to stand down as armed forces minister.

So far a total of 63 Conservative MPs have said they will stand down at the next election or will not contest their current seat, with the party expected to suffer a crushing defeat by Labour.

Former Prime Minister Theresa May is among those who has said she will not stand again.

Mr Halfon stood down as skills, apprenticeships and higher education minister, signing off with a quote from The Lord of The Rings.

He said: "As I move toward stepping down at the general election, I am reminded of what Gandalf said to Frodo Baggins after the defeat of Sauron: 'I am with you at present... but soon I shall not be. I am not coming to the Shire... My time is over: it is no longer my task to set things to rights, nor to help folk to do so. And as for you, my dear friends, you will need no help... among the great you are, and I have no longer any fear at all for any of you'."

The Herald: Sir Ian McKellen as Gandalf in The Lord of the RingsSir Ian McKellen as Gandalf in The Lord of the Rings

He will leave parliament at the next election, along with James Heappey who is standing down as armed forces minister.

Mr Sunak thanked Mr Heappey for his “invaluable role in implementing the Government’s Defence agenda”.

“You have made an important contribution to Government and your support to consecutive Conservative administrations at the Ministry of Defence has been commendable,” the Prime Minister wrote in a letter.

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In his letter to Mr Halfon, Mr Sunak told Mr Halfon he was “very sorry to hear” of his decision to step down from Government and to stand down at the next election.

“You have made an important contribution to our public life, spanning almost 25 years,” the Prime Minister wrote.

He commended Mr Halfon for being a “stalwart champion” for apprenticeships and promoting social mobility.