Erith and Thamesmead’s MP, Teresa Pearce, is to stand down from Parliament at the next general election, she revealed tonight.
Pearce, who has represented the area for nine years, posted an image of a form stating her intention to stand down on her Instagram page.
Labour had asked sitting MPs to tell the party by today if they were planning to stand at the next general election, which is not due until 2022 but many feel could come much sooner with the minority Conservative government currently electing a new leader.
Pearce had a majority of just over 10,000 at the last general election. The constituency, which stretches from Plumstead station, across Thamesmead and Abbey Wood to Belvedere and Erith, straddles parts of both Greenwich and Bexley boroughs.
A much-liked figure in local Labour circles, Pearce succeeded John Austin, a former Greenwich Council leader, as the area’s MP at the 2010 general election.
That followed a chaotic selection process the previous year in which Georgia Gould, the daughter of Tony Blair’s political consultant Philip Gould, was seen in Westminster circles as the favourite for the seat, with cabinet minister Tessa Jowell even making a speech in the constituency to support Gould, in breach of convention. But the selection process was halted after Labour officials reported finding a ballot box had been tampered with. Gould – who is now the leader of Camden Council – ended up coming a poor third to Pearce, a former Bexley councillor.
How Pearce’s successor will be chosen will depend on when the next election is, as it could take some time for a full selection process to be undertaken. However, the party is likely to have an all-female shortlist for the seat, and its safe nature means it will be in demand from both Greenwich and Bexley activists as well as outsiders brushing up on the pronunciation of “Erith”.
In 2014, Pearce married her office manager, Paul O’Neill – who stood for Labour in that year’s council election against Bexley’s Conservative leader Teresa O’Neill, along with two other O’Neills. At the time, Pearce told the Evening Standard she had no intention of taking her husband’s name, saying: “That really would be mischief.”
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