Labour’s longest-serving MP currently in parliament, Barry Sheerman, has said he will step down at the next election and that representing Huddersfield has been “the honour of my life”.
The 81-year-old MP, who was first elected in 1979, said he had informed his constituency party that he would be retiring. It follows an announcement by the Labour MP Margaret Hodge, who was first elected in 1994, that she would step down from her Barking seat at the next election.
“After 40 years as Huddersfield’s member of parliament, I have taken the decision that I will not be standing at the next general election,” Sheerman tweeted on Saturday. “Serving Huddersfield has been the honour of my life. Thank you to my constituents for the kindness, support and warmth you have shown me.”
He said he was “looking forward to spending more time with my wife, my three daughters, my son and 12 grandchildren”.
Sheerman said he still planned to be active in the Commons, saying he did not anticipate a general election for some time. It is understood the Labour party has asked for MPs to begin to inform the party if they do not intend to stand again.
His Huddersfield seat saw an almost eight-point swing to the Conservatives in 2019, in line with many neighbouring constituencies, although he achieved a majority of more than 4,000.
Sheerman is the second-longest-serving MP currently in office, behind the father of the House of Commons, Sir Peter Bottomley, a Conservative MP who was first elected in 1975.
Sheerman told BBC Radio Leeds that age had been the reason for his decision. “The important thing is what you’ve done in those 40 years,” he said.
“I’ve really enjoyed it. I’ve been able to make some real changes in the law; I’ve been able to save lives; I’ve been able to help with some really good people to steer Huddersfield and West Yorkshire.”
Sheerman did not serve in Tony Blair’s cabinet, but held several shadow ministerial briefs under Neil Kinnock and John Smith. He chaired the children, schools and families select committee for nine years until 2010.