Former British foreign minister quits frontline politics

6th August 2010, Comments 0 comments

Former British foreign secretary Jack Straw announced on Friday he was stepping down from frontline politics after 30 years, saying the Labour party needs new leaders to help it move on.

Straw, who is not planning to quit his role as MP for Blackburn, northwest England, also served as justice secretary, home secretary and leader of the commons during successive Labour governments.

As foreign secretary, Straw was a key figure in backing the 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq, and was seen as being on the right of the party.

Straw said his decision to step back from the so-called frontbench of the Labour party was to enable the party to revamp itself after losing power in general elections in May.

Labour is in the process of electing a new leader to succeed Gordon Brown who stepped down as prime minister and party leader following Labour's election defeat.

Once a new leader is in place, a new opposition, or shadow, cabinet will be formed.

"The shadow cabinet is about offering a fresh start for a party in opposition to present itself to the electorate and I thought 30 years was getting on for enough," Straw said.

"Now I want the freedom to range more widely over foreign and economic policy," he added.

Straw, former prime minister Brown and former finance minister Alistair Darling were the only Labour figures to remain in the cabinet throughout the party's 13 years in power from 1997 to 2010.

Straw said he would leave the frontbench in early October.

© 2010 AFP

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