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Coffee House General Election 2017

The exodus of Labour MPs is underway

20 April 2017

9:10 AM

20 April 2017

9:10 AM

Who’d be a Labour MP? Despite the best efforts of the Parliamentary Labour Party, Corbyn is going nowhere and, if the polls are to be believed, he’s leading Labour to electoral oblivion. A general election landslide is on the cards for the Tories, with some estimates suggesting the Government could boost its majority by more than 100 seats come June 8th. Much of this surge will it seems, inevitably, come at the expense of Labour MPs. And for some, the prospect of a snap election has led to them calling time on their Parliamentary careers. Here is the full list of the Labour MPs doing just that:

Gisela Stuart, who represents Labour in Birmingham Edgbaston, said she was ending her 20 year spell in the Commons ahead of the snap election. Stuart – chair of Vote Leave during the referendum – said in a statement: ‘I know when it is time to stand down and pass on the baton’. There’s a strong likelihood that her seat could go the Conservatives’ way: before 1997, the Tories had never lost in Edgbaston.

Alan Johnson, widely regarded as the greatest leader Labour never had, is the most well-known MP to say he is walking away. Johnson said 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’. The MP for Hull West and Hessle also said quitting was ‘best for the party’. Johnson has been a vocal critic of Corbyn, saying the Labour leader was ‘not up to the job’.

Tom Blenkinsop did not beat around the bush when he said why he was quitting Parliament. The Labour MP for Middlesborough South said ‘irreconcilable differences’ with the party’s leadership had led to his decision. Holding on to the seat will prove a challenge for whoever replaces Blenkinsop: the party’s majority has been under 2,500 at both the 2010 and 2015 elections.

Fiona Mactaggart, who was one of 13 Labour MPs to vote against having a snap election, said she was quitting as an MP. Mactaggart, Labour’s representative in Slough, said she had ‘foolishly believed the Prime Minister when she said again and again that she wouldn’t call an early election’.

Andrew Smith, the former work and pensions secretary, announced that he was standing down from his seat in Oxford East after 30 years. Smith insisted that his ‘belief and confidence in the values of fairness which Labour stands for are as strong as ever’. But many will interpret his decision as a consequence of Corbyn’s leadership: Smith has said before that ‘we cannot go into a general election with a leader with such lack of support from MPs’. Will Labour hold on to the seat? Given that Smith enjoyed a majority of more than 15,000 in 2015, it seems likely. But back in 2005, the Lib Dems were under 1,000 votes behind Labour in the constituency. Don’t rule out a yellow revival.

Jim Dowd has said he will no longer be MP for Lewisham West and Penge after the snap election. Dowd upped his majority by some 7,000 votes in 2015; whoever replaces him as the Labour candidate will be lucky to do the same.

Pat Glass, Labour’s MP in North West Durham, previously said she would step down in 2020. After the snap election was announced, she brought forward the decision and will now stand down this year instead. Glass, famous for spending 48 hours in the shadow cabinet last year before resigning in protest at the ‘untenable’ situation in the Labour party, said quitting was the ‘right thing for me and my constituents’.

Iain Wright, the chair of the business select committee, said he wanted to ‘do other things’ and was stepping down as an MP. Wright, who represents Hartlepool, is the third Labour MP in the North East to announce his decision not to stand in this summer’s snap election.

Shadow cabinet member Dave Anderson said that ‘for reasons of health, age and my family’s needs, I cannot commit to another five years in parliament’.

Michael Dugher, who was sacked from the shadow cabinet last January, said he ‘wanted to make a difference in life outside of politics’ and would not run for re-election in Barnsley East.

Rob Marris said he had no plans to contest his seat at the snap general election. The Labour MP for Wolverhampton South West – the second in his party to walk away from a West Midlands constituency – said that he had ‘decided that it is time to step down and support a new Labour candidate for the city’. Marris won the seat in 2015 with a majority of 801, meaning the Tories could well re-take the seat this summer.

Andy Burnham, who is running in this year’s Manchester mayoralty election, said he was stepping down as a Labour MP to focus on the campaign. Burnham said he had ‘done my best to put Leigh on the map’.

We’ll keep this list updated throughout the general election campaign


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