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Frank Field to stand against Labour at next election

The veteran MP quit Labour last year and will stand at the next general election as the Birkenhead Social Justice candidate.

Frank Field (Yui Mok/PA)
Frank Field (Yui Mok/PA)

Former Labour minister Frank Field will stand against his ex-party at the next general election.

Mr Field sits as an independent after resigning the Labour whip last year, citing anti-Semitism and “nastiness” in the party.

The 77-year-old has been MP for Birkenhead in Merseyside since 1979 and is one of the longest-serving MPs in the Commons.

Mark Twain would have said my political death has been much exaggerated Frank Field

Mr Field said he would fight the next election – currently due in 2022 – as the Birkenhead Social Justice candidate.

Speaking outside Birkenhead Town Hall, he said: “Mark Twain would have said my political death has been much exaggerated.

“I’m here today to announce I will be fighting the next election and I will be standing as the Birkenhead Social Justice Party candidate.”

He said it was “ultimately a sovereign decision for the people of the town to decide who they wish to represent them in the House of Commons”.

“I will be standing again as a candidate at the next election with the aim of doing what I have done for 40 years: always putting the interests of our town and our country first while championing the views and interests of the underdogs in our society.”

Work and Pensions Select Committee chairman Mr Field held Birkenhead for Labour with a majority of more than 25,500 and a vote share of almost 77% in 2017.

The next election will be a test of how much of that was due to his popularity in the seat and how much was the appeal of Labour.

Birkenhead Labour Party is expected to complete the process of choosing its candidate for the next election shortly.

A Labour Party spokeswoman said: “The people of Birkenhead voted for a Labour MP in 2017 with a near-10% increase in vote share, and deserve a Labour MP again.

“Birkenhead CLP is currently selecting its Labour candidate to fight the next general election whenever it comes, so we can defeat Boris Johnson’s hard-right Government offering tax cuts for the super-rich and elect a Labour government that will transform society in the interests of the many, not just a privileged few.”

I saw my doctor this morning and I said 'Should I stand'? He jumped up and down - 'You bet you should' - so I think he's not worried on that score. Frank Field

Mr Field was forced to move media interviews inside Birkenhead Town Hall after a man began to remonstrate with him about a row within the local Labour Party following his announcement.

Asked about standing against Labour, Mr Field told the PA news agency: “I’ve always fought as me and I’ve had to fight three elections in the past where people have said to me ‘I can’t vote Labour’ and I’ve said ‘I totally understand why you can’t’.

“It’s not the first time I’ve been in this position or Labour voters have had to be in this position.

“In yesterday’s (Brecon and Radnorshire) by-election, Labour came fourth. Doesn’t look to me like a party on the brink of power.”

He said the people of Birkenhead would make a judgment between a “placard-waving MP” or someone who knew how to lobby on behalf of the constituency.

Mr Field said he would “love to think” that he would one day rejoin the Labour Party.

He added: “In the meantime, while waiting for that miracle, we have to get on with political life and get the best deal we can for Birkenhead.”

The veteran politician said he was not thinking about retiring at any time in the near future.

He said: “I saw my doctor this morning and I said ‘Should I stand’?

“He jumped up and down –  ‘You bet you should’ – so I think he’s not worried on that score.”

PA

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