Tory MP Bob Stewart who was convicted of racist abuse after telling activist to go back to Bahrain to resign at next election after 13 years

Monday 20 November 2023

Bob Stewart will step down from his role at the next election after being convicted of racist abuse.

The Tory MP, who has represented the south-east London constituency of Beckenham since 2010, said he would not seek re-election in a brief statement on X, formerly Twitter, making no reference to the recent conviction.

The 74-year-old, who sits as an independent in the House of Commons, said on social media: “Serving Beckenham as its Member of Parliament for 13 years has been an honour and privilege.

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

Earlier this month, he was found guilty at London’s Westminster Magistrates’ Court of racially abusing activist Sayed Ahmed Alwadaei by telling him to “go back to Bahrain”.

The confrontation occurred as the MP had been attending an event hosted by the Bahraini embassy in London on December 14 last year.

Mr Alwadaei, the director of advocacy at the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy, challenged Stewart on his connections with the country, asking whether he had accepted any money from the Bahraini government.

Mr Stewart told Mr Alwadaei to go back to Bahrain

Mr Alwadaei shouted: "Bob Stewart, for how much did you sell yourself to the Bahraini regime?"

The MP responded: "Bahrain's a great place. End of. Go away, I hate you. You make a lot of fuss. Go back to Bahrain."

Mr Stewart was ordered to pay legal costs of £835, on top of a £600 fine, but he is reportedly considering appealing against the conviction.

Mr Stewart will be resigning after 13 years as MP

Addressing the allegation, Mr Stewart said: “That’s absurd, it’s totally unfair, my life has been, I don’t want to say destroyed, but I am deeply hurt at having to appear in a court like this.

“‘Go back to Bahrain’ meant ‘Why don’t you go back to Bahrain and make your point 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, expected next year.

This also comes following the Tory party reshuffle ahead of the upcoming election.

Mr Stewart is also a former British Army officer and served as a United Nations commander in Bosnia.