MP guilty of racist abuse to resign at next election

An MP who resigned as Conservative whip after being convicted of racist abuse has announced he will stand down at the next election.

Bob Stewart, who has represented the London constituency of Beckenham since 2010, said he would not seek re-election in a brief statement on X, formerly Twitter, which made no reference to the recent conviction.

Earlier this month, a government source told the PA news agency that Mr Stewart had informed Chief Whip Simon Hart that he wished to hand over the party whip pending the resolution of a possible appeal against his conviction.

Mr Stewart is currently an independent MP in the House of Commons.

It is time for a new candidate, so I will not seek re-election in the next election

Bob Stewart

Mr Stewart said on social media: “Serving Beckenham as an MP for 13 years has been an honor and a privilege.

“I am incredibly grateful to everyone who gave me this opportunity. However, it is time for a new candidate, so I will not be seeking re-election at the next election.”

The geographical boundary of the Beckenham constituency is set to change at the next general election following a regular review process carried out by the Boundary Commission for England, which seeks to introduce greater uniformity in population sizes across Westminster seats.

A new constituency of Beckenham and Penge was proposed.

Stewart, 74, who is also a former British army officer and served as the UN commander in Bosnia, was found guilty at London's Westminster Crown Court of racially abusing an activist by telling him to “go back to Bahrain”. .

Chief Justice Paul Goldspring found the MP guilty of a racially aggravated public order offence, and despite citing Mr Stewart's “absolutely positive character”, observed: “I accept he is not racist per se, but that is not against him.

“Good men can do bad things.”

Mr Stewart was attending an event organized by the Bahraini embassy in London on December 14 last year when he was confronted by a protester who asked him “how much did you sell yourself to the Bahraini regime?”

Addressing the allegation of racial abuse, Mr Stewart previously said: “This is absurd, it is completely unfair, my life has been ruined, I don't want to say, but I am deeply hurt that I have to appear in court like this. “

The MP said he was not racist and added: “‘Go back to Bahrain' meant ‘Why don't you go back to Bahrain and speak there?'

A crowdfunding page set up by Brendan Clarke-Smith, the Conservative MP for Bassetlaw, to cover Mr Stewart's fine and any further legal costs has already raised more than £18,000.

Mr Stewart joins a growing list of Tory MPs who have announced they will not stand at the next general election, due next year.