Convicted MP dreamed of being first black female prime minister

Fiona Onasanya had been an MP for little over a month when she took the car journey which ended with her conviction for perverting the course of justice.

The 35-year-old solicitor’s victory in Peterborough was one of the shock results of the snap election of June 8 2017, which saw a Labour surge rob Theresa May of her majority in the House of Commons.

Ms Onasanya took the seat from Conservative Stewart Jackson by a wafer-thin margin of just 607 votes.

She had only joined Labour six years earlier in 2011, after the local party secretary in her hometown of Cambridge overheard her talking in a pub about that summer’s riots and asked whether she had ever considered being active in politics.

After serving four years as a Cambridgeshire county councillor, she was chosen as Labour candidate for a seat which the party had last held in 2005 and which was not at the top of its target list.

Despite being a vocal supporter of Remain in the previous year’s EU referendum, she won the Leave-backing seat.

Within weeks she told the Peterborough Telegraph that she would like to be Britain’s first black female prime minister, and initially her progress at Westminster was swift.

Fiona Onasanya
Fiona Onasanya

A declared supporter of leader Jeremy Corbyn, she was appointed a Labour whip in January 2018 and parliamentary aide to shadow defence secretary Nia Griffith in July of that year.

She grabbed attention by quoting the grime star Big Shaq’s hit Man’s Not Hot in a Commons debate on the Budget, telling MPs: “This is not as simple as saying two plus two is four, minus three is one – quick maths’.”

But she later admitted that she was overwhelmed by the pressure of starting work as an MP, describing it as like being thrown into an ocean and expected to swim.

By this time, the process leading to her downfall had already begun, as her Nissan Micra was recorded speeding in a village near Peterborough on July 24 2017.

The Old Bailey heard evidence that she was behind the wheel of the car – and may also have been sending text messages. The jury was told she went on to lie repeatedly about her involvement to avoid prosecution.

Following her conviction, Labour announced it was suspending Ms Onasanya and urged her to resign as an MP.

She was the second MP in recent years to end up in court for perverting the course of justice in an apparent effort to avoid speeding points on their driving licence. Liberal Democrat minister Chris Huhne was sentenced to eight months after pleading guilty in 2013.

Of Nigerian descent, Ms Onasanya was born in Cambridge and studied law at the University of Hertfordshire, specialising in property law after her graduation. A devout Christian, she has revealed that she suffers from multiple sclerosis.