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Joyce to stay as MP despite new conviction

THE SCOTS MP fined last month over a drink-fuelled rant at airport staff has said he will not stand down before next year's General Election despite political pressure to quit.

Falkirk MP Eric Joyce said it would not be in his constituents' interests if he left as the seat could go to the SNP at a by-election.

He claimed most constituents backed him despite a chequered history that culminated in the 53-year-old being fined £1500 at Edinburgh Sheriff Court for using threatening behaviour.

The charge related to an incident at Edinburgh Airport on May 19 last year.

Speaking outside court at the time, Joyce said he would "reflect" on whether to continue as an MP until 2015.

This weekend he told a newspaper: "I did think it was worth reflecting on it for a couple of weeks, and I have done.

"But it is so close to a General Election that I think the best thing is to stay.

"If constituents felt really strongly about it, and it wasn't artificial, then fine.

"But I've spoken to my constituents about it over the last few weeks and most shrug their shoulders and say 'these things happen'."

Two years ago he was embroiled in another drunken controversy when he headbutted a Tory MP in a House of Commons bar.

He became an independent MP after he was expelled from the Labour Party following his conviction for assaulting colleagues in that incident.

The former Army major was fined £3000 and banned from pubs for three months following the brawl in the House of Commons' Strangers' Bar. The politician added: "Some people are a bit angry but most say 'stuff happens'.

"I don't think it really suits anyone's interests to go early.

"What you would get if I left is another period of uncertainty.

"The realpolitik of it is SNP might - possibly would - win a by-election."

He added: "Actually they probably would win a by-election because they are quite strongish in Falkirk.

"Then you'd get an MP for a few months and the likelihood is they would then lose at a General Election."

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