AN MEP is hoping to return home from Brussels to become Labour’s next parliamentary candidate for Oxford East.
Anneliese Dodds, who lives in Rose Hill but spends several days a week representing the South East in the European Parliament, has revealed she will enter the contest to succeed Andrew Smith in the constituency.
His 15,000-vote majority in 2015 makes it a ‘safe’ seat for Labour and mum-of-two Ms Dodds is tipped as the frontrunner to replace him. Insiders say she has the experience and local credentials needed but she will now have to convince her party’s national executive committee she is up to the job.
Speaking to the Oxford Mail yesterday, she paid tribute to Mr Smith’s ‘tremendous’ work as an MP over 30 years and said his successor needed to stay ‘approachable and as much on people’s side as he has always been’.
Ms Dodds added: “It was a huge surprise to hear Andrew was stepping down, because he has been such a huge presence in Oxford, and it feels like the end of an era.
“I could carry on for two more years as an MEP but, after discussions with my family and a number of other people, I have decided I would like to stand to be Labour’s parliamentary candidate for Oxford East.
“It’s the place where I live, where I am bringing up my kids, in the city I love, and I have come to the conclusion I can have just as much of an impact in the UK’s parliament as I could in Europe’s.
“I would be absolutely delighted if the party selected me but I know there will be plenty of interest in the seat, so we will have to see what happens. It’s a huge responsibility – but I am ready to take it on.”
Ms Dodds was elected to the European Parliament in July 2014 and has two children with Ed Turner, deputy leader of Labour-run Oxford City Council. If she is selected as Labour’s candidate for Oxford East, she has pledged to campaign to protect Oxford’s most important industries, such as car manufacturing at Cowley’s Mini Plant and scientific research, from Brexit.
She said: “We need to be providing jobs for everyone and doing everything we can to keep the amazing science and technology companies we have in Oxford.
“We have also got to keep trying to tackle the cost of living here. There is this strange perception of Oxford that it is just the university but there is much more to it.”
Mr Smith has been Oxford East’s MP for 30 years but on Wednesday announced he would not run in June 8’s general election.
His successor will be chosen by April 28, Labour said, but local party members will not get a vote.