FORMER prime minister Gordon Brown is expected to announce his decision to step down as an MP at his annual Christmas party next week, according to a senior Labour insider.
The Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath MP is set to confirm that he will not contest his seat at the general election in May and that he wants to concentrate on his charity work and his role as United Nations special envoy for global education.
The 63-year-old, who was chancellor from 1997 until 2007, was first elected in 1983 as one
of just two new Labour MPs, along with Tony Blair, in a landslide defeat at the hands of the Tories.
A senior source told The Scotsman that Mr Brown is now expected to make the announcement on Monday.
The move would mean there would have to be a selection process by local party members and a candidate cannot be parachuted in by the party’s national executive.
If Mr Brown delays until 11 December then the national executive will decide the candidate without a local selection.
An ally of Mr Brown’s told a Sunday newspaper: “Gordon has confirmed to friends that he will stand down at the election in May. He wants to go out on a high after effectively salvaging the campaign to keep the UK together in September. He will focus on his charity work.”
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His last-minute intervention in the referendum debate was widely credited with helping the pro-Union Better Together campaign to victory.
A timetable he championed for devolving more powers to Scotland was later endorsed by the three UK party leaders in their vow for greater autonomy for the Scottish Parliament in the event of a No vote.
A series of impassioned speeches, culminating in an eve of poll rallying cry in Glasgow, was also widely praised.
Mr Brown had been tipped by some to stand for the Scottish Labour leadership following the shock resignation of Johann Lamont last month, but instead made clear he had no intention of returning to frontline politics.
Former Labour chancellor Alistair Darling has also announced that he is to stand down as an MP at the next general election in the wake of the referendum.
Candidates in the race to become the new Scottish Labour leader wished Mr Brown well for the future.
Former Scottish secretary Jim Murphy said: “If this is his decision, it’s entirely for him to make. I think all three of us would wish him well with whatever he does next, if indeed that’s what he wants to do.”
Looking to the party’s future, he said: “It’s the passing of a generation. The Scottish Labour Party is going to have to change. There are some really well-known faces through the generations who are now going to do other things.
“It’s really a chance for the Scottish Labour Party to move on and we have an enormous responsibility to do that, because at the moment we’re just not good enough and we’re just not strong enough.”
Candidate Sarah Boyack, an ex-Scottish Executive minister, described Mr Brown as a “colossus” of British politics and said any decision on his future was for him to make.
Neil Findlay said it was no secret that he had wanted Mr Brown to put his name forward to lead the Scottish party.
Labour’s Holyrood health spokesman added: “He’s had a long and very distinguished career in politics and has been a great servant to the Labour movement.
“If it is true that he’s standing down then I wish him well.”
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