Fiona Onasanya was expelled by the Labour Party after her conviction
There is to be a by-election in Peterborough after 19,261 people signed a recall petition to remove the city’s disgraced MP Fiona Onasanya.Ms Onasanya, 35, was jailed in January, and released the following month, after lying about a speeding offence. She was expelled by Labour after her conviction and had been representing Peterborough as an independent.A 10% threshold was required to remove Ms Onasanya, who will be allowed to stand in the by-election.According to a spokeswoman for Peterborough City Council, the number of people who signed the petition amounted to 27.6% of eligible residents.Slender majorityCommons Speaker John Bercow confirmed the recall petition had been successful.He told MPs: “Fiona Onasanya is no longer the member for Peterborough and the seat is accordingly vacant.”She can therefore no longer participate in any parliamentary proceedings as a member of parliament.”Ms Onasanya, who was jailed for perverting the course of justice, has become the first MP to be removed by the recall process, introduced by David Cameron in 2015.She was first elected to Parliament as a Labour MP with a slender majority of 607 in 2017.
What are recall petitions?The process by which the electorate can remove an MP before the end of their term was introduced in the UK in 2015 in response to the 2010 MPs’ expenses scandal.The recall procedure can only be triggered under certain circumstances, including if an MP is convicted in the UK of an offence and sentenced or ordered to be imprisoned or detained – and all appeals have been exhausted.For a recall petition to be successful, 10% of eligible registered voters need to sign the petition. It remains open for six weeks.If successful, a by-election is called and the recalled MP is allowed to stand as a candidate.The first recall petition against an MP was triggered in July 2018 against North Antrim MP Ian Paisley after he failed to declare two holidays paid for by the Sri Lankan government.The petition was unsuccessful, as it was short of 444 signatures, and Mr Paisley remained an MP.The petition against Ms Onasanya is the first time a recall petition has been held in England.A third MP, Chris Davies, Conservative member for Brecon and Radnorshire, is facing a recall petition in Wales after he was convicted for a false expenses claim.Source: UK Parliament
Labour Party chairman Ian Lavery said: “Labour campaigned hard for a victory in this recall petition. “Labour will vigorously fight the by-election here in Peterborough.”Nigel Farage said his new Brexit Party would contest the by-election, but a spokesman said no decision had yet been taken on whether Mr Farage would be the candidate.The by-election in a city which voted 61% Leave in the 2016 EU referendum potentially offers the former UKIP leader a route to a seat in Parliament after seven unsuccessful attempts.Conservative parliamentary candidate for Peterborough Paul Bristow said: “The people of Peterborough deserve a better MP who will vote in Parliament to deliver Brexit.”Former MP George Galloway also declared on Twitter he intended to stand in the by-election.
Fiona Onasanya made her first and last speech in the Commons last week following her release from prison
AnalysisHannah Olsson, political reporter, BBC Radio Cambridgeshire The by-election in Peterborough will come in the middle of one of the most tumultuous times in modern political history. Brexit has shaken up political alliances like never before, but we don’t know what impact that will have, and who it will favour. The by-election could be an opportunity for the new parties to test the popularity of what they’re offering, but the question is what party will they be taking voters from?Another possibility is that Brexit has made everyone so fed up with politics that people in Peterborough will just decide not to vote at all, and we will see a very low turnout.