Southampton MP Stands Down

Labour MP John Denham has announced he will stand down as MP for Southampton Itchen at the next general election -expected in 2015.

The seat is an ultra-marginal, with a Labour majority of just 192 in the 2010 election.

''Although I shall be standing down at the next general election, I remain totally committed to serving the people of Southampton Itchen so long as I am their MP, as I have done since my first election in 1992,'' said Mr Denham.

He said had informed Mr Miliband of his decision to leave Parliament ''some months ago'' and was quitting the shadow cabinet in order to allow the leader to appoint someone who would be able to serve as a minister in a Labour government after the election.

In his letter to the Labour leader, he wrote:

 ''After 30 years continuous service as an elected councillor or MP, I think I should move on whilst I still have enthusiasm for the role.

''We both agree that you would need to bring someone into the shadow cabinet who would be able to serve as minister in the next government.

''It has been a huge honour to be on Labour's front bench in government and in opposition and I have particularly enjoyed working with you over the past year as you have developed a clear, relevant and necessary vision of the way forward for Britain and for the Labour Party.

''I'm delighted that you have asked me to continue to work closely with you as your PPS and playing a full part in Labour's work inside and outside Parliament."

Meanwhile, Mr Miliband's brother David - who has declined to serve on the Labour frontbenches since being defeated for the leadership last year - made clear that he was keeping his distance from the changes in the shadow cabinet.

In a message on Twitter, he wrote:

 ''There's nothing like an early morning walk in Jerusalem's old city. Too early for trinkets, just enough time for history.''