Peter Hain Quits Labour Shadow Cabinet

Peter Hain has stepped down as shadow Welsh secretary.

The veteran MP said he wanted to “explore other challenges” after 16 years on the Labour frontbench – including the Severn barrage project and Africa.

In a letter to Ed Miliband, he said he intended to stay on as an MP and would fight Neath again at the next general election.

But he said that the “thumping victory” at local elections in Wales over which he presided this month provided a suitable moment to step aside.

His move – which he said he alerted Miliband to before Christmas – will add to speculation that the Labour leader is poised to make a wider reshuffle of his top team.

In his resignation letter, Hain – who has held a number of Cabinet roles – said the election results had been a “huge vote of confidence in Labour’s vision for the country and for you personally”.

“However, as I explained when we met before Christmas, I have wanted for a while to explore other opportunities and I am therefore resigning as shadow secretary of state for Wales to focus on two new challenges.”

He said he had been a long-term supporter of the Severn barrage project and wanted to ensure it came to fruition but also wanted to “contribute much more on wider policy issues”, notably African development.

Hain was raised in South Africa and first came to prominence as a hardline anti-apartheid campaigner before entering mainstream politics.

He said he would not rule out a return to the front bench should he be asked back in future.

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