Modi ally Keith Vaz quits politics over sex, drugs scandal

November 12, 2019

LONDON: Labour MP Keith Vaz, who was facing suspension from the House of Commons for six months after he was found to have “expressed willingness” to purchase sex and cocaine for male...

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LONDON: Labour MP Keith Vaz, who was facing suspension from the House of Commons for six months after he was found to have “expressed willingness” to purchase sex and cocaine for male sex workers, has announced he will not be standing for re-election.

Keith Vaz, 62, a close ally and friend of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, announced his retirement from Parliament in a statement after serving for over three decades in Parliament, winning eight general elections and being one of the oldest Asian elected parliamentarians. He said, “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. 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.”

The Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, said, “Keith Vaz was among the pioneering group of black and Asian Labour MPs elected in 1987. I was proud to support his selection and incredibly proud when he won, taking the seat from the Tories. 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 longest serving Indian origin MP rented two boys to visit his flat in Edgware, 10-minute walk from his family home and told them he was a washing machine salesman whose name was “Jim”.

The MP was not aware that the boys were fully aware of his true identity and one of them was secretly recording the proceedings on his phone for the Sunday Mirror newspaper.

Eight days later, the paper published its expose, including extracts of the home affairs chairman discussing illegal drugs, unprotected sex and money.

Vaz is known as a personal friend and trusted ally of the current Indian prime minister, campaigned for him in Britain for many years. The news of his retirement comes as a personal setback to the Indian PM who always counted on Vaz to run campaigns for his BJP party.

In a scathing report, the committee said there was "convincing evidence" that Vaz was "evasive or unhelpful" during an investigation into his conduct by Commons standards commissioners Kathryn Hudson and Kathryn Stone.

At the time, Vaz said he had met the men to discuss the redecoration of his flat.

But the cross-party committee said Vaz' characterisation of the meeting — in which he reportedly posed as a washing machine salesman — was "not believable and ludicrous".

A month ago, Vaz demanded the rescinding of an emergency resolution passed by the opposition Labour Party on Indian Occupied Kashmir. Vaz said the motion had created "unnecessary distress and division within the Party and the country". The resolution was passed on 26 September at the party's annual conference in Brighton and called on the Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn to call for the entry of international observers in the region and demand the right of self-determination for its people. In November 2015, Vaz led a campaign to welcome Modi to the UK while thousands of people held rallies against the “mass murderer of Gujarati Muslims”.

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