Labour MP Heidi Alexander is to stand down from Parliament after being confirmed as London’s deputy mayor for transport.
Ms Alexander’s departure will trigger a by-election in her Lewisham East constituency in south London, a safe Labour seat where she secured an overwhelming majority of 21,123 in the 2017 general election.
The former shadow health secretary, who entered Parliament in 2010, was one of a large number of Labour frontbenchers who quit roles in Jeremy Corbyn’s team in 2016.
Some big news from me: I have today agreed to become the Deputy Mayor (Transport) for @sadiqkhan. This is a huge job with a massive impact on the life, health and economy of London. I will be leaving Parliament after 8 incredible years. pic.twitter.com/Gz4vxJAkzx— Heidi Alexander (@Heidi_LDN) May 8, 2018
She will replace current deputy mayor Val Shawcross, who is stepping back from full-time public life after 18 years at the Greater London Authority, the office of Mayor Sadiq Khan has announced.
Ms Alexander, 43, said: “After eight years as the Member of Parliament for Lewisham East and six years as a local councillor, I know just how important it is we ensure everyone has access to a high-quality and affordable public transport network, with safe cycling routes across the capital.
“London is a fantastic city. I know Sadiq wants its transport system to be the envy of the world and I am looking forward to playing my part in making that happen.”
JUST ANNOUNCED: My excellent Deputy Mayor for Transport @ValShawcross CBE is retiring after 18 years at the GLA, and I want to thank her for her service. I'm delighted to announce that Heidi Alexander has agreed to fill the position. https://t.co/NlV5fvqeNk pic.twitter.com/VHrhK20nD7— Sadiq Khan (@SadiqKhan) May 8, 2018
Mr Khan thanked Ms Shawcross for her “exceptional service” and said that Ms Alexander – who takes over as deputy mayor in the summer, subject to confirmation by the London Assembly – is “respected across the political divide as a parliamentarian and campaigner, and Londoners can be confident she will ensure we deliver our ambitious plans to transform London’s transport network over the coming years”.
Since quitting the Labour frontbench, Ms Alexander has campaigned against a hard Brexit, tabling a motion to stop the Article 50 letter triggering the UK’s EU withdrawal.
Mr Corbyn said: “I would like to thank Heidi Alexander for her service to the people of Lewisham as their MP for the past eight years, and for her work as shadow health secretary.
“I wish Heidi well in her new role as deputy mayor for London in Sadiq Khan’s team, where I know she will put her talents and knowledge to great use for the people of London.”
Conservative chairman Brandon Lewis said: “After a dismal set of local election results in which Labour failed to make the gains they boasted about, this is more proof that Labour are too divided to deliver on their promises to working people.
“This also highlights a complete lack of faith in Jeremy Corbyn and his leadership.
“The remaining moderates left within Labour will now rightly be concerned that they are next on Momentum’s list.”