Labour MPs announce they are standing down as Theresa May calls for a snap general election

Tom Blenkinsop says he cannot 'in good faith' run for re-election while Jeremy Corbyn is leader while Alan Johnson decides to retire now rather than wait for 2022

Caroline Mortimer
Tuesday 18 April 2017 16:22 BST
Theresa May calls for general election

Two Labour MPs have announced they will not run for re-election after Theresa May announced a snap general election.

Former Home Secretary Alan Johnson has announced he will be stepping down from his Hull West and Hessle seat rather than retiring in 2022 when he will be 71.

He said: "As far as the constituency and the Party are concerned, no MP wants to put them through the anguish of a mid-term by-election, so for me the personal decision is whether to retire now or in 2022 when I’ll be into my 70s.

"I’ve decided that going now will give me the opportunity to do other things with my life and is therefore in the best interests of me and my family. I also think it’s best for the Party."

Alan Johnson has decided to retire now rather than wait another five years to do so in 2022
Alan Johnson has decided to retire now rather than wait another five years to do so in 2022

Meanwhile Tom Blenkinsop, the MP for Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland who was first elected in 2010, announced he was quitting because he could not "in good faith" fight a general election campaign while Jeremy Corbyn is leader.

In a statement delivered outside 10 Downing Street Ms May announced the snap election on 8 June, saying she wanted to "remove the risk of uncertainty and instability and continue to give the country the strong and stable leadership it demands".

But critics will point out several polls, including one by The Independent, released over the weekend which showed the Conservatives are currently enjoying a 20-point lead over Jeremy Corbyn's Labour party would have almost certainly factored into her decision.

Mr Blekinsop regained his seat in the 2015 election with a majority of 2,268 but is an outspoken critic of Mr Corbyn's leadership, having supported Owen Smith during the bid to oust him last year.

In a statement on his website, he said: “I will not seeking re-election as the member of Parliament for Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland.

“I have made no secret about my significant and irreconcilable differences with the current Labour leadership. It is because of these differences I feel I cannot in good faith stand as the Labour candidate for Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland.

“Representing the people of Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland has been the proudest years of my life.I will do all I can in my time remaining as an MP to champion my constituents and the area that means so much to me, as I have been proud to do over the last 7 years.”

Tom Blenkinsop is standing down after seven years as an MP over Jeremy Corbyn's leadership
Tom Blenkinsop is standing down after seven years as an MP over Jeremy Corbyn's leadership (Labour Party)

He blamed the Labour leader for the party's lost of a safe council seat in his constituency to the Conservatives earlier this month.

He said: "We lost due to the leader's name being mentioned on the doorstep as the reason why residents were not voting Labour."

Middlesbrough, in North Yorkshire, is considered part of the traditional Labour heartland but voted for Brexit in the referendum last year.

Mr Corbyn is facing a possible wipeout with some speculating he could lose up to 100 seats in this new general election.

Despite this, he "welcomed" Ms May's announcement.

He said: "I welcome the Prime Minister’s decision to give the British people the chance to vote for a government that will put the interests of the majority first," Mr Corbyn said in a statement.

"Labour will be offering the country an effective alternative to a government that has failed to rebuild the economy, delivered falling living standards and damaging cuts to our schools and NHS.

"In the last couple of weeks, Labour has set out policies that offer a clear and credible choice for the country. We look forward to showing how Labour will stand up for the people of Britain".

Simon Burns, Conservative MP for Chelmsford
Simon Burns, Conservative MP for Chelmsford (NHS Employers/Creative Commons)

Separately Conservative MP for Chelmsford, Sir Simon Burns, said he would not run again but praised Ms May's decision to call the vote.

The MP, who had previously said he would not run again in 2020, told the Essex Chronicle: "Of course, I am very sad to go after 30 years in the job, and although there's been enormous satisfaction in helping people, I'm still sad.

"The time has come for a new face and a new approach to representing the people of Chelmsford."

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