Veteran ex-minister standing down as Labour asks MPs to set out plans

Former minister Jim Fitzpatrick has revealed he will not stand for Labour at the next election as the party asked its MPs if they wanted to seek re-selection.

Mr Fitzpatrick, who served in government under Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, shared a photo of his re-selection form confirming that he would not seek to stand again as a candidate.

He has been in Parliament since 1997 and his decision will create a vacancy in the safe Labour seat of Poplar and Limehouse.

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Mr Fitzpatrick has been at odds with the party over Brexit and his decision to stand down came as Labour’s shadow cabinet considered its position on whether to support remaining in the EU in a second referendum.

Labour MPs have been given until July 8 to say whether they wish to stand for re-selection in their seats as the party gears up for a general election.

Mr Fitzpatrick said: “In the event of a snap election, a volunteer parachutist may be needed if (there is) no time for full selection procedures to represent the great seat of Poplar and Limehouse.”

Mr Fitzpatrick rebelled to back Theresa May’s Brexit deal in March and his decision to stand down comes as the party again examines its policy on leaving the European Union.

Deputy Labour leader Tom Watson said that it would be “history making” if the party explicitly backed supporting a vote to remain in the European Union in a new referendum.

Labour has already indicated that any deal should be put to a public vote and Mr Watson has warned the party would be “electoral history” if it did not make it clear it supports Remain.

But shadow cabinet sources played down the chances of a major announcement following today’s meeting.

One told Press Association there was unlikely to be a “big bang” moment while another said they would “play down expectations” from the meeting.