MP Bob Stewart to Step Down: Decision Comes Weeks After Racial Abuse Conviction

Bob Stewart, Member of Parliament for Beckenham since 2010, has made the surprising announcement that he will not seek re-election.

This decision comes just weeks after being found guilty of racially abusing an activist. The 74-year-old MP, known for his long-standing service and previous military career, delivered the news on X (formerly Twitter), providing no explicit reference to the recent conviction.

Retirement Announcement:

In a brief statement on social media, Bob Stewart expressed gratitude for the honor and privilege of serving Beckenham for 13 years.

However, he declared that it is time for a new candidate, signaling his decision not to seek re-election in the upcoming parliamentary vote.

Legal Conviction and Independent Status:

Mr. Stewart, currently sitting as an independent MP in the House of Commons, faced a recent conviction for racially abusing an activist.

Despite the guilty verdict, he has not explicitly addressed the legal issue in his retirement announcement. Earlier this month, he had informed Chief Whip Simon Hart of his decision to surrender the party whip until a potential appeal is resolved.

Proposed Changes in Constituency:

The geographical boundary of the Beckenham constituency is expected to change in the next general election due to a regular review by the Boundary Commission for England.

A new constituency named Beckenham and Penge has been proposed, adding a layer of complexity to the political landscape.

Racial Abuse Conviction Details:

The racial abuse conviction stems from an incident at an event hosted by the Bahraini embassy, where Mr. Stewart told a protester to ‘go back to Bahrain.’ Chief Magistrate Paul Goldspring found him guilty of a racially aggravated public order offense, acknowledging Mr. Stewart’s positive character but emphasizing that “good men can do bad things.”

Reaction and Crowdfunding:

Bob Stewart, maintaining his innocence, has labeled the accusation as absurd and unfair. A crowdfunding page initiated by Conservative MP Brendan Clarke-Smith aims to cover Stewart’s fine and potential legal costs, having already raised more than £18,000.

Growing List of Retiring Tory MPs:

Mr. Stewart’s decision to step down adds his name to the increasing list of Conservative MPs who have announced they will not stand in the next general election, expected next year. This trend reflects a shifting landscape within the party.

This article covers the unexpected retirement announcement of Bob Stewart, the context of his recent conviction, and the broader political implications, including proposed constituency changes and the growing number of retiring Tory MPs.

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