Huddersfield MP Barry Sheerman has announced he won’t stand for re-election at the next General Election.
Mr Sheerman, 81, has been MP for Huddersfield, and previously Huddersfield East, since 1979.
Currently the second longest-serving MP in Parliament behind Tory Sir Peter Bottomley, Mr Sheerman has served the town for 42 years.
In a video message on Twitter on Saturday night, Mr Sheerman – a former Labour frontbench spokesman for education and home affairs – said he wouldn’t stand at the next election, which could be May 2024.
In the meantime he has pledged to continue his work on behalf of the people of Huddersfield.
In the video Mr Sheerman told constituents: “It’s been such a pleasure working with you to make this town the success it has become.
“When we started all those years ago it was fairly traditional town with manufacturing and industrial. Successful, but we had to look to the future and together we built Huddersfield into a modern, exciting university town with diverse employment, a great number of cultural attractions with so much to do. It’s a place to bring up a family, to have a good life, to work and to play.”
Mr Sheerman said he wouldn’t stand at the next General Election but added: “That’s going to be some time away. It could be two-and-a-half years.
“I wanted to tell you that I won’t be the candidate next time. There’s going to be a transition but meanwhile I will be here as your MP, serving the community, working with you. There’s much to be done. I will be representing you and the town in Parliament as vigorously as before.
“So, time for change. It’s going to be gradual but it’s going to come. I want to thank you for the love and the friendship and the great time I have had as your MP.
“I have tried to give the town everything I could and you have given it back very strongly so thank you for everything.”
Speaking to Huddersfield Hub, Mr Sheerman said: “I have been the MP for 40 years and I am not getting any younger. I was persuaded to stand at the last General Election because they thought they needed me and I enjoyed that election.
“Most people expect Boris Johnson to run his full term so that’s two-and-a-half years. There’s all sorts of things I can still do in that time.
“Under Labour Party rules you have to announce this week if you are to stand again if Parliament runs full term.”
Mr Sheerman said Huddersfield was a “quite extraordinary” constituency in that it had only had two MPs since 1945. He said the Labour Party would launch a search for his successor over the coming year.
“It’s for the Labour Party to decide,” he said. “Huddersfield is a great town, a university town and is almost a microcosm for the rest of the country. It’s a classic English town with a proud history.
“I fought very hard to become the candidate all those years ago and I imagine there will be a lot of people who would want to become the next candidate.”
Mr Sheerman said he had been to see Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer last week and recalled that the first Labour leader he met there was James Callaghan.
“I also saw Tony Blair and he was there signing bottles of whisky for people to raffle in their constituencies,” added Mr Sheerman.
“I am still very fit and shall keep up my strike rate asking questions in Parliament but I am also realistic. I have been around some turbulent times and some disappointing times and you do end up with a lot of experience and a lot of knowledge which could be useful in the coming weeks and months.
“I shall continue to be a vigorous MP.”