BARROW and Furness MP John Woodcock has today stood down as Labour’s shadow transport minister after being told it could take two years to recover from a fall at his home.
The father-of-two suffered a head injury in August in what he initially thought was a routine accident, but has yet to fully recover.
He has now decided to concentrate on serving his Barrow and Furness constitutents and has sent notice of withdrawal from frontline politics to Labour leader, Ed Miliband.
Woodcock, 34, was elected in May 2010 with a majority of over 5,000. From a business and commerce point of view, his appointment as transport minister was viewed as a major asset to Furness in Westminster as the area has long suffered from, and campaigned for, better transport links to both Furness and the West Coast.
However, Woodcock stressed he intended to continue fighting for the area and that he holds ambitions for a senior role when his recovery is complete.
While that will mean he will contest his seat, he will be out of the front bench picture until after the next General Election, slated for 2015.
In the letter to Miliband, Mr Woodcock wrote: “You and our colleagues have been so kind in supporting me over these difficult past few months as my head has slowly been getting better from the injury I sustained.
“I am now back working hard in my constituency, but full recovery is taking much longer than I had hoped so it no longer feels right that you keep open my place on the frontbench and leave the transport team a person down.”
In his reply, Mr Miliband said: “I am obviously saddened that you will be leaving the front bench, but reassured in knowing it is only for a short while until you are back to full health. I wish you a speedy and full recovery and hope this time away from frontbench duties will allow you to focus on getting fighting fit.”
This morning, Lakes MP Tim Farron tweeted his regards for Mr Woodcock's welfare.