WARRINGTON North MP Helen Jones has announced her retirement and will not seek re-election as the Member of Parliament for Warrington North.

She has been MP for the constituency since 1997.

Mrs Jones will be 65 in December and says she does not think it would be 'fair' to stay in the next Parliament until she is 70.

The Guardian understands a replacement Labour candidate will be chosen as early as next week.

In a letter to Warrington North Constituency Labour Party chair Cllr Graham Friend, Mrs Jones said: “I am writing to let you know that I have decided not to stand at the next General Election.

“It has been a great privilege to be Warrington North’s M.P. for over 22 years and I am deeply grateful to the voters here who have elected me at six General Elections.

“Their support, their innate decency and their kindness has enabled me to carry on when times were tough.

READ MORE >> Helen Jones' retirement letter in full

“I was honoured to have been elected the first ever Chair of the Petitions Select Committee and to have been involved in the development of a petitions system that has allowed millions of people to engage directly with Parliament. Petitions have led to real change, most notably on funding for brain tumour research and access to life-extending drugs for cystic fibrosis sufferers.

“Still there comes a time when all of us have to decide to go, and that time has come for me. I will be 65 in December and to stand for an election now would mean committing myself, if I was re-elected, to stay in parliament until I was 70. I do not think that would be fair to my constituents, my Party or my family.

“I hope that I will be succeeded by another woman candidate, for there are still too few women in parliament, but that is not for me to decide."

Warrington Guardian:

Helen Jones

Cllr Friend said Mrs Jones has given 22 years of 'devoted service' to the people of Warrington North.

He added: "We are very sad to learn that she has decided to retire at this election.

“Whether it is campaigning to save Peel Hall from development, securing money from Government for our young people, or taking up any one of the thousands of individual cases that have crossed her desk, Helen has been a tireless advocate for her constituents.

"She has lived and breathed Warrington North for more than 22 years, often working seven days a week for the communities that she loves, and has never shied away from her responsibilities to stand up for what she believes in, and the people she represents.

“I know that many Labour Party members and constituents will be very sorry to see her go. On behalf of the Labour Party, I would like to thank her for everything she has delivered for our area. People here can see the difference that Helen has made, and the passion with which she has furthered the causes close to her heart. We wish her all the very best for her retirement.

“The Labour Party will announce our candidate for the December General Election in the coming days.”