Keith Vaz, the longest-serving Indian-origin MP in the House of Commons, on Monday, announced his retirement from Parliament after 32 years in the wake of a drugs scandal.
Vaz had been the Labour Party’s MP for Leicester East since 1987. Late on Sunday, he has announced in a statement that he would not be seeking re-election in the December 12 General Election.
Vaz said in a statement, “I have decided to retire after completing 32 years as the Member of Parliament for Leicester East. In that time, I have won eight general elections”.
Last month, a parliamentary watchdog had recommended Vaz be suspended for six months for expressing a willingness to buy cocaine during an encounter with two male prostitutes.
The watchdog said his suggestion that the men were there to discuss redecorating the London flat was “ludicrous”.
Vaz, 62, said at the time he had been treated for a serious mental health condition as a result of the incident.
Labour Party Leader Jeremy Corbyn praised the veteran MP for his “substantial and significant contribution to public life” as part of a pioneering group of black and Asian Labour MPs elected in 1987.
Vaz had played a prominent role in the India-UK relations over the years and hosted numerous Indian ministers and MPs during their visit to Britain. He had been selected as the Labour Party’s candidate for next month’s election but it must now find a replacement in time for the Thursday deadline for finalising candidates.
The announcement comes in the wake of the Commons voting through the parliamentary watchdog’s recommendation to suspend the MP for six months after finding he had “disregarded” the law when he “expressed willingness” to purchase cocaine for male prostitutes a few years ago.
In 2016, the MP had been caught up in a scandal around his private life following newspaper headlines linking him with male escorts. At the time, he had issued a public apology and stepped down as the head of the influential House of Commons’ Home Affairs Committee.
(With inputs from agency)