BASILDON Labour leader Gavin Callaghan has ruled himself out as a candidate in the impending general election.
The councillor, who came second to Tory MP John Baron when he contested the Basildon and Billericay seat in 2015, has been a vocal critic of Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn and campaigned for Andy Burnham in the party’s 2015 leadership battle.
He said his group had not yet chosen its candidates for the June 8 ballot.
He said: “I have taken the decision not to stand in either of the Basildon constituencies. I believe new Labour candidates with new ideas should be given the opportunity to test themselves against the town’s two failing Conservative MPs.
“I thoroughly enjoyed the 2015 election campaign and it has energised me in my work on Basildon Council to ensure residents’ voices are heard on important local issues, such as the Local Plan, the NHS and immigration.
“There is no doubt that Labour’s core values of social justice, fairness and opportunity for the many and not just a privileged few, are values Basildon desperately needs right now.
“Once Labour’s candidates are in place, I will be doing everything I can to ensure we get as many Labour votes as possible and hold the two Tory MPs to account for their broken promises on the economy, the NHS and on housing.”
The current Tory MPs – John Baron for Basildon and Billericay and Stephen Metcalfe for South Basildon and East Thurrock – have each said they welcomed the planned election.
Mr Baron said: “I look forward to the election campaign and to making the case for a fairer and more enterprising nation outside the EU.
“A Conservative victory would convey greater strength to negotiate a better EU deal for Britain, whilst building on the strong economy, low taxes and compassionate policies we have put in place since 2010.”
Mr Metcalfe said: “I was pleased to vote in favour of holding a general election as it is clear we must secure the strong and stable leadership the country needs, guiding us through Brexit and beyond.
“It has been an honour and a privilege to serve as MP since 2010 and I will again put myself forward for election to represent our area, ensuring local people have a strong voice in Westminster.”