Labour's Tristram Hunt quitting as MP to head V&A Museum

Labour MP Tristram Hunt is quitting as an MP to become the director of London’s Victoria and Albert Museum, triggering a by-election.

Mr Hunt, a critic of Jeremy Corbyn, said he did not want to “rock the boat” but had the chance “to have one of the greatest museum jobs in the world”.

His Stoke-on-Trent Central seat is set to be abolished under boundary changes.

Mr Hunt told local party members he had been frustrated about how Labour should respond to political shockwaves.

In a letter to them explaining his decision, he said being an MP had been “both deeply rewarding and intensely frustrating”.

‘Plain wrong’

Highlighting the “harrowing effects of poverty and inequality upon social mobility”, he said: ” The frustration, of course, came with the inability to address those factors and implement our policy programme following our defeat in 2015 – and, more broadly, about how the Labour Party should respond to the social, cultural and economic forces which have rocked mainstream social democratic and socialist parties from India to Greece to America.”

He added: “I am sorry to put you, the party and the people of Stoke-on-Trent, through a by-election. I have no desire to rock the boat now and anyone who interprets my decision to leave in that way is just plain wrong.”

The former TV historian was elected to represent Stoke-on-Trent in 2010 and was re-elected in 2015 with a majority of 5,179. UKIP came second.

‘Informed and articulate’

Confirming the announcement, the V&A said Mr Hunt would bring “widespread expertise” to the museum.

Chairman Nicholas Coleridge said: “He has a highly compelling mixture of experience across public life, the arts, history, education and academia, and knows our collections well from his writing and broadcasting.

“In addition, he is an informed and articulate leader and communicator on numerous facets of culture, both historic and contemporary, and I greatly look forward to working with him at the V&A.”

A spokesman for Labour leader Mr Corbyn said: “Jeremy would like to thank Tristram Hunt for his service to the people of Stoke-on-Trent Central and to the Labour Party.

“Jeremy wishes him well in his future pursuits at the V&A.”

But former UKIP leader Nigel Farage tweeted: “Tristram Hunt’s resignation from Stoke will be followed by many others. Labour is doomed.”

Mr Hunt is the second Labour MP in a matter of weeks to quit Parliament for a job outside politics. Jamie Reed announced last month he was standing down as MP for Copeland to take up a post at the Sellafield nuclear plant.

Mr Hunt’s departure sets up another potentially awkward by-election for Mr Corbyn, in a traditionally safe Labour seat where UKIP made a strong showing in the last general election.

Labour deputy leader Tom Watson said he was “disappointed to see a talented MP like Tristram step down”.

“His departure will be keenly felt by Parliament and by the Labour Party…” he said, adding that Labour “will move swiftly to ensure Stoke-on-Trent Central continues to be represented by a strong and capable Labour MP”.

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