Former Furness MP John Woodcock is to begin work as a government anti-terror envoy, after he announced he will not be contesting December’s general election.

“I am honoured to be asked to contribute to the government’s critically important counter terror strategy as I step down from the House of Commons, the former Labour MP said of his new role.

“As a backbench MP, I have long argued that the UK must rise to the security challenges posed by far right extremism and radicalised British nationals returning from Jihad in foreign conflict zones.”

Mr Woodcock, who has been the Barrow and Furness parliamentary representative since 2010, notified constituents at the start of this week of his decision to stand down ahead of the upcoming national poll in a letter that cited the news he and his partner are expecting a child as his main reason for resigning.

“This role represents a great opportunity to make the case for the security alliances that keep our citizens safe and to explore how the UK can learn from global best practice in countering the violent extremism spread both by Islamists and re-emerging far right terror groups,” he said yesterday.

The former aide to Gordon Brown is the third ex-Labour MP to accept a post in the Conservative government, following Ian Austin’s appointment as trade envoy to Israel and the recent news of John Mann becoming Number 10’s anti-Semitism Czar.

The competition for one of the country’s most marginal seats - that Mr Woodcock retained by just 209 votes in 2017 - has intensified in light of Monday’s announcement. Some observers believe Mr Altree is likely to benefit from the reduced split in the Labour vote, while the Brexit Party has not officially announced it will be fielding any candidates in Cumbria as yet.

Mr Woodcock was congratulated on his new role by Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab in the House of Commons yesterday, as Raab responded to Mr Woodcock’s question on the capture of Islamic State leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi’s sister in Turkey.