Former shadow cabinet minister Michael Dugher has been hailed an “unflinching supporter of Israel” and a “mensch” after announcing his plans to leave Parliament.

The Barnsley East MP and vice-chair of Labour Friends of Israel – who famously changed his Twitter bio to say “sacked by Corbyn by too much straight talking” after leaving his shadow culture job – will not defend the Barnsley seat he has serve for the past two decades.

Dugher has consistently spoken out against boycotts of the Jewish state and said he was “proud to call myself a Zionist” after then leader Ed Miliband very public unease over the label. He abstained when the House of Commons voted on recognition of Palestine, despite what he described as leader Ed Miliband’s “catastrophic” decision to impose a three-line whip.

Dugher, one of the most vocal critics of Jeremy Corbyn in the parliamentary Labour Party on a range of issues, also spoke out during the anti-Semitism scandal that engulfed the party. Writing in the Jewish News last year, he said there was “no reason” why the first report into claims of intimidation at the Oxford Union Labour club should not be published.

Jennifer Gerber, LFI Director, said: “Michael Dugher has been a consistent and unflinching supporter of Israel. As LFI vice-chair, he has never shied away from defending Israel against those who seek to demonise and delegitimise the world’s only Jewish state.

“It has been a huge pleasure to work alongside Michael and visit Israel with him on many occasions. His presence in Parliament will be sorely missed by all at LFI, but we wish him well for the future and know he will continue to make an enormous impact in public life.”

Lee Petar, a senior figure within the Jewish Labour Movement who has known Dugher since their days in student politics, said: “He has always been a true friend of our community. He was never afraid to stand up and be counted. In short he’s a mensch.”