• Monday, June 24, 2024

HEADLINE STORY

Labour MP Virendra Sharma steps back from re-election bid

Virendra Sharma, who chairs the Indo-British All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) and co-chairs the British Hindus APPG, has been a vocal advocate of closer India-UK relations over the years.

Virendra Sharma pledged to continue supporting Labour’s bid for government with party leader Keir Starmer. (Photo: X/@VirendraSharma)

By: Vivek Mishra

Veteran British Indian Labour MP Virendra Sharma has announced his decision to step back from frontline politics and not seek re-election in the UK’s July 4 general election.

The 77-year-old MP, who has represented the heavily Punjabi dominated Ealing Southall constituency since 2007, cited a desire for a new chapter in his life as a grandfather.

“As a British Indian and as a Hindu, as a Labour member, councillor and MP I have never struggled to reconcile those different, but complementary, identities,” Sharma said in a letter addressed to his party on Monday evening.

“For over nearly 50 years, I have served the party in one form or another. Now I believe the time has come for another chapter to begin. I want to let you know that I will not be standing at the next election … This does not dim my desire for Labour to win, and win I am sure we will.”

Sharma, who chairs the Indo-British All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) and co-chairs the British Hindus APPG, has been a vocal advocate of closer India-UK relations over the years.

His election in the 2007 by-election followed the death of another long-serving Indian-origin veteran Labour MP from Ealing Southall, Piara Singh Khabra, and the constituency has remained a Labour stronghold ever since.

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Sharma praised the support of his wife Nirmala over the years and pledged to continue supporting Labour’s bid for government with party leader Keir Starmer.

“It is clear to me that the country is crying out for change, and that Keir, [Deputy leader] Angela [Rayner] and the whole Labour Party represent the change this country needs,” he said.

“I was proud to nominate Keir for leader in 2020, and the promises he made then to rebuild this party have put us on the path to power and made me proud to serve as a Labour MP. We swept antisemitism from the Labour Party and we have gone from our worst result in a century, to the edge of government,” he said.

(PTI)

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