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Labour's Keith Vaz announces he won't stand for re-election after Commons ban over cocaine scandal

Labour's Keith Vaz announces he won't stand for re-election after Commons ban over cocaine scandal
3 min read

Labour's Keith Vaz has announced that he will not run to become an MP again after being handed a six-month Commons ban for causing "significant damage" to its reputation.

The disgraced party veteran said it had been an "honour and a privilege" to represent Leicester East since 1987 as he confirmed he was stepping down.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn meanwhile paid tribute to Mr Vaz's "substantial and significant contribution to public life".

The MP was handed a six-month Commons ban last month after the Committee on Standards said he had shown "disregard for the law" and caused "significant damage to the reputation and integrity of the House of Commons as a whole".

Mr Vaz was forced to step down from his role as Chair of the Commons Home Affairs Select Committee in 2016 after the Sunday Mirror obtained a recording of him offering to buy cocaine for two male escorts.

The damning Commons report said: "The Committee finds that by expressing willingness to purchase cocaine for another person to use, Mr Vaz showed disregard for the law, and by failing to co-operate fully with the inquiry process, he showed disrespect for the House’s standards system."

The former MP is said to have been receiving treatment for a "serious mental health condition" since details of the incident were first published in the Sunday Mirror.

In a statement confirming his exit, Mr Vaz said he had "decided to retire after completing 32 years as the Member of Parliament for Leicester East".

And he added: "In that time I have won eight general elections. It has been an honour and a privilege to serve my constituency since I came to the city in 1985.

"I want to thank the people of Leicester East for their absolute loyalty and support."

Mr Corbyn said: "Keith Vaz was among the pioneering group of black and Asian Labour MPs elected in 1987.

"Keith has made a substantial and significant contribution to public life, both as a constituency MP for the people of Leicester and for the Asian community across the country.

"He has helped to pave the way for more BAME people to become involved in politics."

The Labour leader added: "His work in Parliament has been exemplary as Britain's first Asian-origin minister, chair of the Home Affairs Select Committee, a campaigner on diabetes issues and most recently trying to help the peace process in Yemen."

The move comes after Labour's ruling national executive committee deferred a decision on Mr Vaz's future as a candidate at a key meeting last week.

But the former MP had been under mounting pressure to quit, with Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott - a longstanding ally - urging him to "consider his position" and "agree not to be a candidate".

"I think it’s been a very sad issue, not just for him, but for his family and his children," the Labour frontbencher added.

Mr Vaz's decision to step aside means Labour must now choose a new candidate for Leicester East, where the party currently enjoys a majority of 5,730 votes.

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