Voters oust criminal MP in UK first
LONDON, United Kingdom – Voters in eastern England will elect a new member of parliament next month after ejecting the incumbent in the first move of its kind, it was announced Thursday, May 2.
Fiona Onasanya lost her seat after voters in the city of Peterborough signed a recall petition triggered by her conviction for lying over a speeding offense.
The 35-year-old was expelled from the main opposition Labour party after she was jailed for 3 months in January for perverting the course of justice.
She had hoped to continue as an independent MP, but 28% of eligible voters signed the petition, well over the 10% threshold required to oust her.
MPs who receive sentences of less than a year in prison are not automatically excluded from parliament.
Following the announcement of the results on Wednesday night, May 1, Labour moved a motion in the House of Commons on Thursday for a new election for June 6.
It is fielding a new candidate, but is likely to face intense competition in a marginal seat complicated by shifting political allegiances over Brexit.
Onasanya took the seat from Prime Minister Theresa May's Conservatives in 2017 by a majority of just 607 votes, and the party will fight hard to win it back.
But Nigel Farage's Brexit Party is also hoping to capitalize on the strong anti-EU feeling in Peterborough to try to win its first seat in the House of Commons.
Farage himself – a major campaigner in the 2016 referendum on leaving the EU – is reportedly not planning to stand.
"We will give it our best shot," he tweeted.
Onasanya is the first MP to be removed by the recall process, which was introduced by former prime minister David Cameron in 2015.
It applies to MPs convicted of an offense and sentenced to jail, suspended from the Commons for at least 10 sitting days, or found guilty of false expenses claims.
Onasanya had claimed someone else was driving her car when it was caught speeding in July last year. – Rappler.com