Petition opens for constituents to vote on unseating disgraced MP Onasanya

A petition that could unseat disgraced MP Fiona Onasanya, who was convicted for lying about a speeding offence, is to open to voters in her Peterborough constituency.

The 35-year-old served 28 days of a three-month prison sentence for perverting the course of justice and has continued to receive her £77,379 salary.

A recall petition opens on Tuesday and constituents will have six weeks to sign before it closes at 5pm on May 1.

If it attracts the signatures of 10% of eligible voters – about 7,000 people – Ms Onasanya will be forced out and a by-election called.

Under recall rules, she will be permitted to stand for re-election.

She is the second MP – and the first in England – to be subjected to a recall petition since the procedure was introduced in 2015 to give voters a means of ousting errant MPs in between elections.

North Antrim MP Ian Paisley Jr narrowly avoided recall last year when 9.4% of eligible constituents signed a petition demanding his removal after he was suspended from Parliament for failing to declare a holiday paid for by the Sri Lankan government.

Ms Onasanya was elected for Labour in the Cambridgeshire city in 2017 by a wafer-thin majority of 607 votes, but was expelled from the party after her conviction.

She was not subject to automatic removal as an MP as her sentence was less than 12 months, and has resisted calls to resign her role.

Recall petitions are launched when MPs receive a custodial sentence – including suspended sentences – are barred from the Commons for 10 sitting days or are convicted of providing false information about their expenses.

Voters in Peterborough will be allocated to one of 10 signing stations around the constituency and can also apply to make a postal or proxy signature.

Peterborough’s petition officer Gillian Beasley said no updates on the progress of the petition would be made while it remains open.

After it closes, the result will be sent to the Commons Speaker and Peterborough City Council will await his reply before publishing it.

The petition process will cost around £500,000, funded by central government.

Ms Onasanya posted a video on her social media channels the day before the petition opened in which she pleaded with voters to let her continue as their representative in Parliament.

In the clip, recorded in front of an image of a city skyline, she claims she is innocent of perverting the course of justice.

Jurors at the Old Bailey were told that she colluded with her brother Festus after her car was clocked speeding at 41mph in a 30mph zone in the village of Thorney, near Peterborough, in July 2017.

She was sent a notice of intended prosecution to fill out, but it was sent back naming the guilty driver as Aleks Antipow, an acquaintance of her brother, who was away visiting his parents in Russia.

Festus Onasanya, 34, from Cambridge, was jailed for 10 months after he admitted three counts of perverting the course of justice over speeding, including the July 24 incident.

A YouGov survey conducted in January found that of more than 4,000 people polled, 81% thought Onasanya should resign.