Keith Vaz bites the bullet and insists decision is ‘mine alone’
Tory MP David Burrowes is said to have led the backash against the Labour MP.
Keith Vaz has resigned as chairman of the home affairs committee after fellow MPs demanded that he stand down.
The Labour MP said the committee’s work needed to be conducted without any distractions. “I am genuinely sorry that recent events make it impossible for this to happen if I remain chair,” he added.
Conservative MP Tim Loughton will take over the chairmanship in the interim, with an election to choose his permanent successor – who will be a Labour MP – to take place in the coming weeks.
Vaz is the longest-serving chair of the committee after taking up his post in July 2007. He insisted that the decision to stand down was “mine alone” – but many members of the Commons committee are known to have expressed grave concerns about Vaz staying in the job.
Conservative MP David Burrowes is said to have been pushing especially hard for Vaz to stand down following allegations that he paid for male escorts. As well as being a member of the home affairs select committee, Burrowes is chairman of the Conservative Christian Fellowship.
The Sunday Mirror published pictures and audio recordings of a meeting with the escorts, along with details of text messages that Vaz apparently exchanged with them.
On Monday, Vaz attempted to carry on as usual by speaking in the Commons about suspects on bail and the humanitarian crisis in Yemen.
His full resignation statement:
It is in the best interest of the home affairs select committee that its important work can be conducted without any distractions whatsoever. I am genuinely sorry that recent events make it impossible for this to happen if I remain chair. I have always been passionate about select committees, having served as either chair or member for half of my time in parliament. The integrity of the select committee system matters to me. Those who hold others to account, must themselves be accountable.
I am immeasurably proud of the work the committee has undertaken over the last 9 years, and I am privileged to have been the longest serving chair of this committee. This work has included the publication of 120 reports, hearing evidence from ministers 113 times, and hearing from a total of 1379 witnesses. I am very pleased that so many members of the committee have gone onto high office and ministerial positions.
I told the committee today of my decision to stand aside immediately from committee business, and my intention to resign. This is my decision, and mine alone, and my first consideration has been the effect of recent events on my family. I have recommended that in the interim, Tim Loughton MP, the senior Conservative member, should Chair proceedings.After speaking to the House authorities, I will formally tender my resignation to Mr Speaker so that it coincides with the timetable for the election of other committee chairs, such as the Brexit Committee, Culture, Media and Sport, and Science and Technology, so that the elections can take place together.
I would like to thank my fellow members of the committee, past and present, for their tremendous support. I would also like to thank the clerks of the House for the amazing work they have done to strengthen the Select committee system, we are not quite on par with the United States, but we are getting there. They are a vital body for the scrutiny of government. I would like to particularly thank my two Clerks, Tom Healey and Carol Oxborough.