George Howarth to stand down as Knowsley MP after more than 30 years

Sir George Howarth will step down as the Member of Parliament for Knowsley after more than three decades.

Mr Howarth was first elected to represent the former Knowsley North constituency in 1986. He subsequently became the representative for Knowsley North and Sefton East in 1997 and Knowsley in 2010.

Born in Prescot, Mr Howarth held junior a number of junior roles in Tony Blair's government. He was Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Home Affairs and later for Northern Ireland.

In a note sent to his Constituency Labour Party, Mr Howarth wrote: "I have decided I will not be contesting the next general election.

"After over 30 years as a Knowsley MP, it is the right time for a new candidate for our party in Knowsley.

"Being the MP for the area I grew up in has been a great privilege and an enormous honour and being awarded the Freedom of the Borough is the honour I most cherish."

He said that while he will be standing down at the next election, which is expected to arrive at some point in 2024, he will continue to represent the constituency until that point.

He added: "I will also do all that I can to help us win the next general election with a Labour majority.

"A Labour government is always good for communities such as ours. The last Labour government delivered so much - a new hospital building, new school buildings and much more besides."

Speaking about his replacement, Mr Howarth made the case for a 'good, local candidate' to take over.

He said: "It will, of course, be up to our members who they wish to be out candidate and I will have a vote but no more say than any other members.

"The only advice I would offer, however, is that in my experience, a good local candidate with a proven track record in the constituency is always the best option and it is the case that here in Knowsley, we do have members who fulfil the criteria."

Sir George Howarth served as Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Northern Ireland from 1999 to 2001

Mr Howarth was congratulated by Bernie Donnelly, the leader of Knowsley Town Council, who said: "Best wishes to my long time friend, Labour colleague and local MP - for some 40 years - George Howarth, who has recently announced that he will not be contesting the next general election."

Mr Howarth is the latest Merseyside MP to announce they will step down before the next election.

Wirral West member Margaret Greenwood and St Helens North MP Conor McGinn will both leave office, while Wirral South MP Alison McGovern is challenging fellow Labour MP Mick Whitley for the new expanded Birkenhead seat with her own constituency set to be abolished.