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MP Keith Vaz standing down after suspension over ‘willingness’ to buy drugs

Keith Vaz standing down

He has announced he will stand down in the upcoming General Election (Picture: PA)

Labour MP Keith Vaz has announced he will be standing down in the next General Election.

The former Chair of the Home Affairs Committee, 62, is currently suspended from the Commons after he was found to have ‘expressed willingness’ to purchase cocaine for two male escorts in 2016.

Today, in a statement, he confirmed that he would be retiring from his Leicester East seat after 32 years.

He said: 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. Leicester and especially the people of Leicester East will always be in my heart.’

Mr Vaz was subjected to a Standards Committee inquiry in October after being accused of paying for the services of two male escorts in 2016.

He was also accused of trying to procure cocaine and poppers, and of admitting to having unprotected sex with other escorts.

Mandatory Credit: Photo by Tom Nicholson/LNP/REX (10223134g) Labour Party MP Keith Vaz arrives at Labour Party headquarters for National Executive Meeting at which Labour's position on a second EU vote will be decided. Labour NEC Meeting, London, UK - 30 Apr 2019

He was found to have ‘expressed willingness’ to buy cocaine (Picture: Rex Features)

The married MP stated that he may have given a ‘spiked’ drink at the time, but the Standards Committee dismissed his claims as ‘not believable and, indeed, ludicrous’.

The committee, which is the disciplinary body of the Commons, found his actions had caused ‘significant damage’ to the reputation of the House and breached parliament’s code.

MPs then endorsed the recommended six-month suspension without a formal vote.

Mr Vaz then faced calls to step down, including from within his own party, and was also under threat of having the Labour whip removed.

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In response to Mr Vaz’s resignation, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn described him as ‘among the pioneering group of black and Asian Labour MPs elected in 1987’.

He continued: ‘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.

‘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.

‘Our work to combat racism and bring our diverse communities together is far from over.’

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