John Prescott is expected to seek a seat in the House of Lords to continue his new role as head of Britain's parliamentary delegation to the Council of Europe when he stands down as an MP at the next election.
Mr Prescott, who resigned as Deputy Prime Minister when Tony Blair stood down earlier this year, announced formally yesterday that he would step down as Hull East MP at the next election. He said it had been a "huge privilege" to serve the constituency he has represented for 37 years.
Friends expect Mr Prescott, 69, to take a seat in the House of Lords to enable him to carry on his new role as British representative on the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe.
Richard Caborn, the former sports minister and a friend of Mr Prescott, said he expected him to continue his European work after the next election. "He wants to carry on," he said. "If he wants to stay in the EU role he will have to [take a seat in the Lords].
"He is very, very keen. John did a huge amount in Europe up to 1979. He also played a very important role in the Kyoto climate change agreement and this gives him a platform to do some of that work." Mr Prescott told local constituency activists about his decision to stand down over the weekend. In a statement he said: "It has been a huge privilege to represent the people of Hull East over the last 37 years. I will continue to do that until the next general election, whenever that might be."
Stephen Brady, chairman of the local Labour association, said: "John told us he would not be standing again. People paid tribute to his long service. It was an emotional event."
Mr Brady said: "It's no secret that a number of people are in the frame for selection already. Now people will start putting their names forward formally." Contenders to succeed Mr Prescott in Hull East include his son, David, and a former minister, Chris Leslie.