IN a big shock, Labour’s Helen Jones has announced she is retiring as Warrington North MP.

The politician, who has been MP for the constituency since 1997, confirmed she will not be standing at the pre-Christmas general election.

Mrs Jones has endured time on the Opposition's front bench during her parliamentary term, including as shadow Home Office minister after getting the nod from former Labour leader Ed Miliband in 2013.

READ MORE >> Helen Jones announces retirement

Warrington Guardian:

Helen Jones campaigning in 1997

Here is her letter to Warrington North Constituency Labour Party chair Cllr Graham Friend in full.

Mrs Jones said: “Dear Graham,

“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.

“I also want to place on record my thanks to Labour members who have supported me in those elections and who have campaigned with me through the years.

“Together, we have changed the way this constituency works, moving from having no contact records for voters to one with a voter i.d. rate of 84%, one of the highest in the country.

“We changed from a constituency which simply put out a leaflet at election time to one which held regular mobile surgeries.

“I am proud to have been a part of that, just as I am proud to have secured, in 2013, from a reluctant coalition government, three quarters of a million pounds of additional funding for our special needs education; to have been instrumental in delivering Junction 8; to have stood with residents against the HS2 spur, the proposed waste transfer site, the proposed incinerator, and developing Peel Hall; and to have led the campaign to have Warrington Borough Council adopt the real Living Wage. Most of all, I am proud to have helped thousands and thousands of people who have brought their concerns to me over the years.

“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.

Warrington Guardian:

“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.

“Whoever is chosen, I hope that they will continue the work we have done keeping in touch with the voters through regular campaigning. Most of all, I hope that whoever succeeds me will stand up for Warrington North.

“You know that it has long been my view that people here are often taken for granted by the council. That is why I, along with other Labour colleagues, have had to fight on issues like protecting Peel Hall or stopping a waste transfer station being built. People here deserve better than that. They are overwhelmingly decent, respectable people who pay their dues and demand little. Yet they are often ignored when they do speak out.

“I also hope that some people in our party will not try to undermine my successor in the way they have tried to do to me. Council officers were told not to bother answering my letters as I would only be a one-term M.P. – I think we have proved that wrong. It is 2019, not 1819. Women have arrived in the public sphere and some men need to get used to it.

“My constituents have always stood by me and I have always admired and respected them. It has been a real honour to represent the people here in Warrington North. I hope I have made a real difference to people’s lives over the years and the kind letters and emails from constituents would suggest that I have. I wish them well for the future and hope they get a fair deal and better opportunities for their children. I hope they will get an M.P. who will work with them to achieve that – they certainly deserve it.

“With Every Good Wish,

Helen Jones MP”

Warrington Guardian: