Labour’s Jamie Reed has announced he is quitting as an MP - triggering a by-election in his Copeland constituency.
Reed, who has been highly critical of Jeremy Corbyn, is leaving parliament to take up a job at the Sellafield nuclear plant as Head of Development & Community Relations.
The 43-year-old has been an MP since 2005 and insisted today his decision had “absolutely nothing” to do with Corbyn’s leadership of the party.
He has previously accused Corbyn of being “reckless” and “narcissistic” in his resistance to renewing Britain’s Trident nuclear weapons system.
Copeland 2015 result
- Jamie Reed (Lab) - 16,750
- Stephen Haraldsen (Con) - 14,186
- Michael Pye (Ukip) - 6, 148
- Danny Gallagher (Lib Dem) - 1,368
- Allan Todd (Green) - 1, 179
Reed secured a 2,564 majority in Copeland over the Conservatives at the 2015 general election. Ukip finished in third place and will be looking to eat into the Labour vote post -Brexit.
The north England seat, in west Cumbria, voted 62% to leave the EU.
In a letter to Corbyn, Reed said he wished the Labour leader “every success in your endeavours to become our next Labour Prime Minister”.
“I love my community and I love the Labour Party. Leaving Parliament is the hardest decision of my life,” he said.
“Communities like mine have felt the painful impact of Conservative policy more than other areas of the country: in local government, in education, in infrastructure investment but most of all within the NHS. We desperately need a Labour government so that communities like mine can build the future they deserve.”
Reed famously quit the Labour frontbench within a minute of Corbyn being elected leader in 2015.
Speaking to The Guardian today, Reed said: “One of the reasons that I am moving on is because I think there’s a better way of doing that [serving his community] right now than to remain as a member of parliament.”
“This decision has got absolutely nothing to do with Jeremy Corbyn. On a personal level I’ve got a very cordial relationship.”
Reed said serving as an MP had kept him away from his four children and wife. “I know that there will be literally hundreds of thousands of people in the same situation I am, working on shifts or oil rigs or tanker drivers or you name it, mothers and fathers, but I’ve always found that difficult,” he said.
“The truth is that I’m finding it increasingly difficult. And the decision that I’m making is the hardest one I’ve ever made but it’s undoubtedly the best thing for me to do for my family.”
Nuclear issues may play a part in the Copeland by-election, as the constituency includes the fuel recycling and decommissioning site at Sellafield and neighbouring Barrow is the location for construction work on the Trident replacement submarines.
Jamie Reed’s letter to Jeremy Corbyn:
It has been an honour to have been elected to represent the people of Copeland in Parliament at the last three general elections as a Labour MP. It has been a privilege without compare to serve the community that I was born and raised in.
From the end of January 2017, I will cease to serve as the Member of Parliament for Copeland in order to join Sel!afield Ltd as its new Head of Development & Community Relations.
This is an important role that will build upon my work in Parliament and my previous time at Sellafield and allow me to continue to help the community and industry of West Cumbria to meet the challenges of the future.
I am proud of what I have achieved over the past 12 years with the help and support of the Copeland community and the last Labour government.
Together we built, schools, town centre developments, university facilities, dental surgeries. healthcare centres and a new West Cumberland Hospital of which I am most proud. This is the hospital where my four children were born and which saved my life in 2010 when admitted to intensive care as a result of undiagnosed Type I diabetes. Universally accessible, high quality local health services, free at the point of use must always remain central to our political mission
West Cumbria now has its best days before it and - thanks to all our hard work -Copeland will soon become one of the fastest growing areas of the UK economy. I look forward to being part of this development in my new role.
I am indebted to all those who have supported, advised, assisted and encouraged me over the years. I am particularly grateful to the Copeland Labour Party and the hardworking, dedicated, decent people who sustain it.
In our country and in my community, the Labour Party remains the greatest movement for social and economic progress we have ever seen or are ever likely to see.
The ambitions of Copeland. and other communities like it. are always best served by a Labour government that seeks to renew our nation and which redistributes power. wealth and opportunity.
I have long argued that our national politics must meet this challenge so that communities like mine ― far removed from our major urban centres - can shape our own futures. I hope that the next Labour government will help to deliver this.
Now that our country has voted to leave the European Union, we need a Um-sit that works for communities like Copeland, and one that works for the whole of our country.
I love my community and I love the Labour Party. Leaving Parliament is the hardest decision of my life.
Communities like mine have felt the painful impact of Conservative policy more than other areas of the country: in local government, in education, in infrastructure investment but most of all within the NHS. We desperately need a Labour government so that communities like mine can build the future they deserve.
I wish you every success in your endeavours to become our next Labour Prime Minister.
Jamie Reed Member of Parliament for Copeland