A LONG-serving County Durham Labour MP, who is standing down at the next election, could be succeeded by his aide.

Grahame Morris has been selected by Easington Constituency Labour Party as its candidate to replace John Cummings, who has held the seat since 1987 and has an 18,636 majority.

Mr Morris, who is the MP's full-time researcher and constituency caseworker, who was one of four candidates, received 74.9 per cent of first preference votes to win the contest in the first round.

Married father-of-two Mr Morris, 46, a miner's son, has lived locally all his life, is a former district councillor, the constituency party secretary and general election agent, a member of the GMB union, and a former NHS employee.

He founded a company called GAPPP, that holds conferences and training events for councillors, and he is parliamentary officer of the National Association of Councillors.

Mr Cummings timed his retirement announcement to give the local party time to select its own candidate and not have the National Executive Committee impose one or impose a shortlist.

Mr Morris said: "I am immensely privileged to have been selected by members of Easington Constituency Labour Party to follow in the footsteps of Sidney Webb, Manny Shinwell, Jack Dormand and John Cummings, who have all represented this constituency with great distinction.

"As Labour's candidate at the next General Election, I will seek the support of the public, to continue Labour's important work here in Easington. There are many challenges ahead, in health, education, and regeneration, and if elected to Parliament I look forward to bringing about improvements for local people."