The MP for Newcastle-under-Lyme Paul Farrelly has announced he is to stand down at the next general election after 18 years.
The 57-year-old, who is the town’s longest serving MP since the war, broke the news to his constituency party’s annual general meeting in Newcastle on Friday night.
He said: ‘I’m really proud to have represented the place of my birth at Westminster for so long, fighting and winning five general elections in Newcastle. And I’m extremely grateful for all the help and support I’ve had from so many wonderful people along the way.
‘Snap general election speculation to one side, the Labour Party is now going through its usual process of reselecting candidates for the next general election, so it is now important that I make my intentions clear.
‘By 2022, if this Parliament were to run its course, I would have reached the grand old age of 60, and served over 20 years since my first election in 2001.
‘I also still have a young family to support, and it would not be fair on them, really, to carry on beyond the next election, with all the stresses and strains that go with the job of being a dutiful Member of Parliament. So I have promised them, too, that 2017 was my last election.’
‘Throughout my 18 years I’ve done my best to be honest with my constituents, even when we disagree. I have tried always, too, to act on principle, so people know where they stand. I’ve never guaranteed anything that’s uncertain, but – in sorting all sorts of issues out, with the help of my great staff – we’ve made sure no-one’s ever palmed off by any powers-that-be.
‘I’m proud to have played my part in getting important things done in Newcastle and North Staffordshire, with great Labour colleagues here in the past – our new hospital, our landmark new college with its amazing team, the medical school and science park development at our university at Keele, and regeneration of our coalfields, including Silverdale, to name a few.
‘And my heart, too, will always be with our wonderful Peter Pan Centre for Special Needs, for which we got a brand new building opposite my old school at Wolstanton and grants to help them in all the marvellous things they do for children and families in need.
‘On arriving in Parliament, I fought at the outset for a fair system of university and student funding, not what we have sadly got now. I sponsored legislation to give agency workers fair treatment. And I have been consistent in standing up for the benefits of our membership of the European Union, opposing the referendum and the triggering of our exit as terrible ideas.
‘And I certainly won’t be voting for any snap general election, before 31st October, as that just plays into the hands of our chaotic new Prime Minister, and the ‘crazy gang’ around him.
‘With a majority of just 30, Newcastle may still be the most marginal West Midlands seat, but – at 21,124 – in 2017 the Labour vote in Newcastle was the biggest in my five elections.
‘We’ve been a top Tory target for a nearly a decade now, and two years ago many wrote Labour in Newcastle off. What we had then, though, was an informal, common sense coalition of sorts, with progressive people – including many friends among natural Liberal Democrats and Greens, whom I’ve thanked – uniting behind us to see the Conservatives off.
‘With this kamikaze Government, that coalition is needed again now more than ever, to back my successor as the Labour candidate in Newcastle. In these febrile times, as we’ve seen in so many divisions in the Commons this year, every single Parliamentary vote counts.’
‘Just to round off, over the summer I received a lovely card from a one of my constituents, Lynne Evans, now retired, who was the inspirational head teacher at St Giles’ & St George’s primary school in the heart of Newcastle.’
‘It was to thank me for my stand on ‘Brexit’ and respecting people’s rights. Her daughter lives with her family in Luxembourg and, like a great many people right now, they’re all so anxious about the future.’
‘It was a beautiful bookend to my time as Newcastle’s MP, because one of the first things I did after 2001 was to work with Lynne to get their much-stalled, brand new school at Poolfields built, away from the old place, squeezed as it was inside the busy town ring-road.
‘And the County architect who designed it just happened to be a great old mate from my days growing up, playing for Trentham Rugby Club.’