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Ex-PM Brown to stand down as MP

Former prime minister Gordon Brown has confirmed he is standing down as an MP and ruled out becoming a Labour peer.

In a speech in his Kirkcaldy constituency, the 63-year-old said he would quit parliament at the general election in May.

Mr Brown played a key role in the Scottish independence referendum campaign this year, sparking speculation that he would stand for leader of Labour in Scotland - something he quickly dismissed.

He told constituents it was time for a "new person, with new ideas" to represent them.

The Labour MP has focused on charity work and his role as United Nations special envoy for global education since his resignation as prime minister in 2010.

He said: "We are not leaving Fife. It is London that I'm leaving and for the avoidance of any doubt, I'm not going back to Westminster, not to the House of Commons after the general election and not to the House of Lords.

"It is Fife where our home is and where we will be, where our children John and Fraser, who are here tonight, are happily at school and it is from Fife where I will do the new and extended work as the United Nations special envoy on global education."

Mr Brown said believed in the "moral purpose of public service" and said he was "ready to play whatever part I can" in championing the causes Labour stands for in Westminster and Holyrood.

He added: "So, although I'm standing down from public office I want to renew my commitment to public service.

"So, in the next few months I will do everything I can to secure the election of my successor here as the Member of Parliament here and the election of Ed Miliband as prime minister under a Labour government.

"In the next few months if it comes to it, I will use the skills I have learned in fighting the cause of Scotland in Britain to fight also the cause of Britain in Europe.

"And, although I have no desire to return to frontline politics, if the health service needs an additional champion, if the cause of social justice needs someone else to speak up for it, if the cause of Scotland in Britain needs someone to speak for it, and if I feel I can make a difference, then I will do everything in my power to play my part in securing the election of a Labour government in the Scottish parliament elections in 2016 as well."

Mr Brown, who was first elected to Parliament in 1983, was chancellor from 1997 to 2007 and then prime minister from 2007 to 2010.

His last-minute intervention in the referendum debate was widely credited with helping the pro-union Better Together campaign to victory.

A timetable he championed for devolving more powers to Scotland was later endorsed by the three UK party leaders in their vow for greater autonomy for the Scottish Parliament in the event of a No vote.

Labour leader Ed Miliband said: "On behalf of the Labour Party I want to thank Gordon Brown for his outstanding 32-year parliamentary career.

"He is a towering figure in British politics because, for a generation, he helped make the political weather and change our country.

"He played an enormous role in getting Labour elected in 1997 and sustaining the Party in government.

"For ten years as Chancellor of the Exchequer he was behind many of Labour's proudest achievements including the Minimum Wage, Sure Start, the Child Tax Credit, paid paternity leave and sustained investment in health and education.

"As Prime Minister he led this country out of the biggest global financial crash for a generation and helped to prevent a second Great Depression.

"Gordon has a proud record on global justice including the negotiation of debt cancellation for the world's poorest nations.

"More recently we saw him at his very best - passionate, inspiring and inspired, campaigning for Scotland to stay in the United Kingdom.

"I wish Gordon, Sarah and their boys well. I know Gordon will continue to serve our party and our country in many different ways. I know he will continue to campaign for justice around the world."

Mr Brown was joined at the event in Kirkcaldy by his wife Sarah and his two sons. He thanked his constituents and the wider Fife community for everything they had done to support his family.

The former prime minister, who grew up in the town, said there was "no greater privilege in life than to represent the people that you have grown up with, to represent people that you know and respect".

He also thanked the community for the support it had shown to the family when his daughter Jennifer, who was born prematurely, died in December 2001.

He said: "I will never forget, and Sarah will never forget, the kindness you showed us, and the strength that you gave us, when 13 years ago this year at Christmas time, our first child Jennifer was born here at Forth Park Hospital, and then died only 10 days later."

He thanked constituents for donations to Jennifer's research fund.

"I am very grateful for everything you have done to help me and my family over the years," he added.

Mr Brown went on to describe the further devolution promised to Holyrood in the wake of the referendum as "unfinished business".

"I wanted to be absolutely certain that these changes will happen and that the new Parliament would be in place before I made the decision to stand down as a member of Parliament," he said.

He said his decision to stand down was "the right thing to do", and would allow someone new with "new ideas and new energy" to represent the Labour in the constituency at the next general election.

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