Chris Smith to stand down at election

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Indy Politics

The former culture secretary Chris Smith has announced he will stand down as an MP at the next election.

Mr Smith, who has been MP for Islington South and Finsbury since 1983 and was a Labour frontbencher for 15 years, is leaving Parliament to run an arts organisation.

His departure from Parliament caused surprise and dismay among fellow Labour MPs at Westminster yesterday.

Mr Smith was a vocal opponent of the Government over Iraq, but last night Mr Smith, who was sacked as Culture Secretary in 2001, denied he was leaving over differences with the Government's direction.

"In general terms I am very happy with the Government's programme," he said. "By the next election I will have been 22 years in Parliament. It's time to move forward."