SOUTHAMPTON Test MP, Alan Whitehead has announced that he will step down at the next election.

After being MP for more than two decades, the Labour politician has now signalled to the party that he will not be standing for reselection as a candidate.

This comes as all Labour MPs have been asked to indicate whether they would like to be candidates at the next election.

The 71-year-old said he may be 73 by the time the next election takes place and added: "I have now decided that I could not give a further five-year commitment to the role of MP at that point much though I might want to continue in principle."

Speaking in an email to constituents, he said: "I have been your MP for some twenty-three years now, and between us we have managed to hold Southampton Test as a red beacon for Labour in seven elections over those years.

"I am proud to have been able to represent you in Parliament for all this time, and I’m profoundly grateful for all the support you have given me to do the job.

"We will now be looking to find someone who can keep the flag flying in Southampton Test, and I am sure you will give them all the assistance that I have been fortunate enough to receive.

"Meanwhile, there will be a year or two before an election and I will continue to do my best for the constituency in that time: both in my present role as shadow Energy Minister and in all the work that needs doing in Southampton."