Harriet Harman to stand down after 40 years as an MP

Labour MP Harriet Harman first joined the Commons as MP for Camberwell and Peckham in 1982 Credit: PA

Labour MP Harriet Harman has announced she is standing down at the next election after almost 40 years in Parliament.

The former minister and Britain’s longest-serving female MP said she will not run for her Camberwell and Peckham seat in the next general election.

The 71-year-old is known as the "Mother of the House," having first joined the Commons as MP for the south London seat in 1982.

Following Tony Blair’s victory in the 1997 election, Harman became secretary of state for social security and the first minister for women.

In an email to constituents, she said: {"I feel I can leave the House of Commons now, confident that Labour is gaining strength under the leadership of Keir Starmer and the new team he has appointed.

"It has been an overwhelming honour to be Member of Parliament representing and working for the people of Camberwell and Peckham for nearly 40 years."

Colleagues rushed to pay tribute to the Labour veteran.

Labour leader Starmer said: "Harriet, your commitment to Labour and Camberwell and Peckham for almost 40 years is phenomenal," he said.

"A champion for women and social justice – you’ve paved the way for future generations.

"It’s been a privilege to work with you, I look forward to continuing to do so for a while yet."

Harriet Harman and then-Prime Minister Gordon Brown in 2008

Ed Miliband, who led the party with Ms Harman as his deputy between 2010 and 2015, described her as "a feminist, fighter, conviction politician."

"Harriet taught me so much as my first political boss and was a brilliant deputy," he said.

"She has achieved so much and will be sorely missed from the House of Commons."

Shadow culture secretary Lucy Powell described Harman as a "trail-blazer for women."

"She’s incredibly effective, very loyal, fierce, formidable and very kind. She taught me so much," she said.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan praised Harman's "lifetime of outstanding service."

Harman added in her email: "I entered the Commons as one of only 11 Labour women MPs in a parliament that was 97% men.

"Now there are 104 Labour women and across all parties women MPs are a ‘critical mass’.

"But there remains much more to be done till women genuinely share political power with men on equal terms and until women in this country are equal.

"I will leave the House of Commons with my feminism, my belief in Labour and my enthusiasm for politics undimmed."

Harriet Harman's career in numbers:

  • 10 - elections fought

  • 7 - prime ministers served under

  • 8 - Labour leaders served under

  • 40 - years as an MP

  • 9,850 - times spoken in the House of Commons

  • 1 of only 11 Labour women MPs in 1982

Her announcement comes after fellow Labour veterans Barry Sheerman and Dame Margaret Hodge announced their plans to stand down at the next general election.