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Labour MP triggers by-election by quitting to become deputy mayor

Heidi Alexander is MP for the ultra-safe Labour seat of Lewisham East.

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.

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(PA Graphics)

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.

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.

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Labour party annual conference 2015

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.”

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.”

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