Andrew Smith, the Oxford East Labour MP for 30 years, has announced he will not be standing as a candidate in June’s snap general election.
In a message to constituents on his website, Smith, 66, said: “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.”
Thanking constituents for their support, Smith added: “It has been a huge privilege to serve as MP for Oxford East, and we have achieved so much together.”
“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.”
Smith’s decision follows Theresa May’s surprise announcement yesterday of a snap general election to be held on 8 June.
The announcement will open a nomination process for Smith’s replacement as Labour’s Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for the seat. The Oxford East constituency contains the majority of University colleges and the Oxford city centre.
Smith, who studied at St John’s college, was first elected as Member of Parliament for Oxford East in 1987, beating the Conservative candidate. He has held the seat ever since, with a majority of 15,280 from the 2015 general election.
He briefly served as a minister in the Department of Education after Labour’s 1997 election win, before becoming Chief Secretary to the Treasury from 1999 to 2002. He was Secretary of State for Work and Pensions from 2002 to 2004.
In his statement today, Smith said: “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.”
Constituents have expressed their sadness at his departure on social media.
— Tom Hayes (@CllrTomHayes) April 19, 2017
@AndrewSmithMP I am really sorry about this. Genuine, hard working, thoughtful MP.
— Peter Hutchinson (@Catus14) April 19, 2017
@AndrewSmithMP You're a fantastic MP, Andrew. Thank you for your work. I hope we have a longtime local as next candidate, not necessarily an Oxbridge grad.
— Bill Franklin (@billfranklinuk) April 19, 2017