Disgraced Keith Vaz expelled from Labour as he stands for One Leicester party

<span>Keith Vaz was still a full member of Labour when he announced he would run for Leicester East, which he held for 32 years.</span><span>Photograph: Dominic Lipinski/PA</span>
Keith Vaz was still a full member of Labour when he announced he would run for Leicester East, which he held for 32 years.Photograph: Dominic Lipinski/PA

The disgraced former MP Keith Vaz has been belatedly kicked out of Labour after announcing he is standing in his old seat, Leicester East, for a new local party.

The former minister, who is running against an official Labour party candidate, was still a member of the party on Thursday when it emerged that he was standing in the constituency for the One Leicester party.

On Friday, the party rescinded his membership. He is still described in some party literature as the honorary president of Leicester East constituency party.

Insiders said Vaz’s membership of the Labour party had been terminated on Friday for breaching party rules prohibiting members standing for public election in opposition to a party candidate.

The fact that he remained a member until now will infuriate many local party members who have been calling for him to be ejected for years. They have warned that he has been campaigning for more than a year, concentrating his efforts on the local Hindu community in Leicester East.

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It comes four years after Vaz announced his retirement from parliament after being given a six-month ban from the House of Commons for offering to buy cocaine for sex workers and obstructing inquiries by the standards commissioner.

In a leaflet distributed to voters in the seat this week, he said: “Many people have urged me to stand again. I have decided to do so and accept the nomination of Leicester’s newest party, One Leicester, to be their candidate for one more term.

“Although I have always held Labour values, I promise to put Leicester first and party politics second.”

Vaz will be taking on candidates from the main parties, as well as his successor, Claudia Webbe, who is standing as an independent candidate after being expelled from Labour over a conviction for harassment in 2021.

Vaz was the MP for Leicester East for 32 years, from 1987-2019, before he announced he would not be seeking re-election in 2019.

He was given a six-month ban from parliament after an inquiry in to claims published in the Sunday Mirror in 2016 that he offered to buy cocaine for male sex workers while posing as an industrial washing machine salesman.

The standards committee found he “caused significant damage to the reputation and integrity of the House of Commons”.

Separately, in 2021, Vaz was reprimanded after being found to have engaged in “sustained and unpleasant bullying” towards a parliamentary member of staff.

Vaz told the Guardian last year that he would not stand as an MP again, saying: “That ship has sailed.”

He is standing for the One Leicester party, launched last year by the former Leicester Labour councillor and assistant mayor, Rita Patel, who was suspended from the party after voting to scrap the mayoral role.

Vaz has vowed to donate his entire MP salary to charity and create a “seven days a week MP office”.

“It was the greatest privilege of my life to serve as MP for Leicester East for over three decades. I absolutely love Leicester,” he said. “Today, I am shocked with what I see. Despite so many opportunities, Leicester is unrecognisable, and on the edge of bankruptcy.”

The seat, which has one of the biggest south Asian populations in the country, was won by Labour in 2019 (under slightly different boundaries), but there was a 14% swing towards the Conservatives. Rajesh Agrawal, the deputy mayor of London, is now Labour’s candidate for the seat.

The Labour mayor of Leicester, Peter Soulsby, previously said there were fears that having Vaz and Webbe run in the seat “might split the vote and let the Tories in”.

Vaz has been approached for comment.

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