MP Andrew Smith is to retire from politics after almost 30 years representing Oxford East.
The 66-year-old politician announced today (19/4) that he has decided not to run in June 8’s snap general election.
The Labour MP won seven elections, the first in 1987, and won a 50 per cent of the vote in the 2015 election.
In a shock announcement, Mr Smith said in a statement: “I thank constituents for your 30 years of support.
“It has been a huge privilege to serve as MP for Oxford East, and we have achieved so much together.
“This election is for a Parliament which is likely to run until 2022, when I would be over 71, so I think it is now time for someone else to take forward the work of serving local people as your MP.
“I will therefore not be a candidate in the election.”
It is being reported that Mr Smith was already planning to step down before the planned 2020 election.
But, following Prime Minister Theresa May’s call for a snap election, he has decided not to stand in seven weeks’ time.
Mr Smith’s statement continued: “My belief and confidence in the values of fairness which Labour stands for are as strong as ever, and I will work tirelessly to help secure the election of a Labour MP for Oxford East, carrying forward the service which Oxford Labour gives our local community.
“I am very thankful to constituents, Labour members and my office staff for their support and work over the years.
“It is always hard to give up a job you love, but that time comes.”
The Oxford Labour Party said the National Executive Committee were meeting last night to begin the replacement process.
Labour councillor Tom Hayes, who has been a case worker for the MP, said: “I am devastated. I have worked for him for years and he has been my mentor.
“There are a huge number of people who have a strong relationship with him.
“He has helped so many people personally, whether that’s through housing, refugees and people who are seeking asylum status – the list is endless.”
Between 1994 and 2004 Mr Smith served Prime Minister Tony Blair as Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury (1994-96), Shadow Secretary of State for Transport (1996-97), Minister of State for Employment and Disability Rights (1997-99), Chief Secretary to the Treasury (1999-2002) and Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (2202-2004).
Oxford East constituents have paid tribute on Mr Smith’s Facebook page with some members of the community being represented by nobody else other than the Wokingham-born MP during their lifetime.
Gi Na posted: “I’m very sorry to hear this Andrew, you are a fantastic MP and you have done so much for the people of Oxford, but understand your decision to stand down.
“Thank you so much for all of your work over the years, I have always felt proud to have such a decent, hard working MP with such integrity on our side and you will be dearly missed. Very best wishes to you for your retirement.”
David Clover added: “We will miss you. As well as being a Labour Party MP, you have always had a strong personal vote which goes beyond party.”