Veteran British Indian Labour MP Virendra Sharma says won’t seek re-election

Veteran British Indian Labour MP Virendra Sharma says won't seek re-election

LONDON: Virendra Sharma, Britain’s veteran Indian-origin member of Parliament and a vocal advocate of closer India-UK relations over the years, has announced his decision to step back from frontline politics and not seek re-election in the UK‘s July 4 general . The 77-year-old Labour Party MP, who has won a record four general elections since a by-election victory in 2007 from the heavily Punjabi dominated Ealing Southall constituency, said it was time for a new chapter in his life as a grandfather.
The politician born in Mandhali village in Punjab moved to the UK in 1968 and started out as a bus conductor before going on to study at the London School of Economics (LSE) on a Trade Union Scholarship and becoming a prominent trade unionist of his time.
“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,” said Sharma 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.
“I will continue to support Labour, and I hope to continue to be part of the Labour project, but not from inside the House of Commons,” he added.
Sharma, who chairs the Indo-British All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) and co-chairs the British Hindus APPG, has been a very 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.
Sharma hailed the “constant unstinting support” of his wife Nirmala over the course of the years and pledged to continue “pounding the streets” ahead of “Labour’s entry into Downing Street” with party leader Keir Starmer as the UK’s new prime minister.
“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 stated.

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