Peter Hain to stand down as an MP at next election

Peter Hain said it had been a 'very tough decision'

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The former cabinet minister Peter Hain has announced he will stand down as a Labour MP at the general election.

The MP for Neath had been reselected by his local party and was intending to run again next year.

But Mr Hain, 64, who became an MP in 1991, said it was now time to "draw stumps" on his Commons career.

The former Northern Ireland and Welsh secretary told the BBC it had been a "tough decision" but that he would continue to "fight for Labour".

Start Quote

Whether on the backbenches, the front bench or in the cabinet he has served the Labour Party and the country tirelessly”

End Quote Ed Miliband Labour leader

During his cabinet career, Mr Hain also had stints as work and pensions secretary and leader of the House of Commons.

"Having been reselected last December as Labour candidate for Neath, I was planning to stand again next year," he said.

"However, after considerable thought and in discussion with Ed Miliband, leader of the party and for many years my close colleague, I have decided to draw stumps on my House of Commons career."

He also took to Twitter, writing: "Standing down as an MP, but moving on to remain active in politics, campaigning for justice, freedom, equality, democracy."

Ed Miliband and Peter Hain pictured in 2010 Ed Miliband said he would miss Mr Hain's humour and friendship
Gordon Brown and Peter Hain Mr Hain served as a cabinet minister under both Gordon Brown and Tony Blair

Speaking on Friday night, Mr Hain told BBC Wales: "I've been in politics for nearly 50 years - all my life, really. I'm not going to go away.

"I'm going to fight for Neath, I'll stay living here, and I want to fight for Labour and to support Ed Miliband.

"I can do that in all sorts of different ways."

He said he was "privileged" to have represented Neath and his closeness to the constituency made this a "very tough decision" to make.

Mr Hain refused to be drawn on whether his future role would involve taking up a seat in the House of Lords.

'Integrity and wisdom'

Labour leader Mr Miliband paid tribute to Mr Hain, describing him as a "political activist and campaigner".

"It goes without saying that his integrity, wisdom and firmness in speaking up for those least empowered to speak for themselves will all be sorely missed," he said.

"Whether on the backbenches, the front bench or in the cabinet he has served the Labour Party and the country tirelessly."

Mr Miliband added that he would miss his colleague's "personal friendship and humour on the green benches".

Peter Hain at a Labour Party regional conference in 1991 Mr Hain pictured at a Labour party conference in the year he became an MP
Peter Hain pictured in 1973 Mr Hain was first known for his work in the anti-apartheid campaign

Raised in South Africa, Mr Hain became known as an anti-apartheid campaigner.

His family was forced into exile in 1966 because of their involvement in the movement.

Mr Hain spoke at a thanksgiving service for Nelson Mandela at Westminster Abbey in March, having been a friend of the former South African president.

He entered mainstream politics in the UK and was elected as the Labour MP for Neath in South Wales in a by-election in 1991.

In 1997, when Tony Blair's Labour Party won power, he became a whip and then became a junior minister in the Welsh Office, before becoming secretary of state for Wales in 2002.

'Unstinting work'

Mr Hain was given the additional role of leader of the Commons the following year before becoming Northern Ireland secretary in May 2005.

In 2007, he announced he would seek election to become deputy Labour leader but failed to properly register donations to his campaign, leading him to quit as work and pensions and Welsh secretary the following year.

In 2009 he returned to government as secretary of state for Wales.

He resigned from the shadow cabinet in May 2012 to campaign for a barrage across the Severn estuary.

The Neath constituency Labour Party also paid tribute to Mr Hain's career, saying he had helped to deliver "further devolution for the people of Wales" and praising his "unstinting work to negotiate a peace settlement in Northern Ireland".

"We thank Peter unreservedly for what he has done for us and are sure he will continue to play an active role in the constituency and the party," its statement read.

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