Dismay at downfall of Peterborough MP Fiona Onasanya as city politicians call on her to step down

Labour has called on MP for Peterborough Fiona Onasanya to quit her seat after she was found guilty of perverting the course of justice.

Thursday, 20th December 2018, 5:00 am
Updated Thursday, 10th January 2019, 10:20 am

The party has suspended the MP and withdrawn the whip following her guilty verdict at the Old Bailey yesterday.

In a statement issued immediately after the conviction, a Labour Party spokesperson said: “The Labour Party is deeply disappointed in Fiona Onasanya’s behaviour. It falls well below what is expected of politicians. She should now resign.

“Fiona Onasanya is being administratively suspended from the Labour Party and therefore the whip with immediate effect.”

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Peterborough MP Fiona Onasanya departs by taxi from the Old Bailey in central London after she was found guilty of perverting the course of justice following a retrial for lying to police to avoid a speeding charge. Picture: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire

Wearing dark sunglasses and shielded by an umbrella, Ms Onasanya did not comment when asked if she would resign as an MP as she entered a black cab outside the Old Bailey yesterday.

The Peterborough Telegraph has spoken to figures from across the political spectrum to get their reaction to yesterday’s verdict and their thoughts on Ms Onasanya’s time as an MP so far.

Leader of the Labour group on Peterborough City Council Cllr Shaz Nawaz passed the PT onto a Labour spokesperson who did not answer the phone when we called.

But Labour city councillor Ed Murphy said it is right for Ms Onasanya to resign.

He added: “The biggest issues in Peterborough are the economy and housing and we need a Member of Parliament that will take that up and a government that will deal with the trade issues around Brexit.”

Conservative MP Shailesh Vara, whose North West Cambridgeshire constituency also takes in a large part of Peterborough, said he got on well his Labour counterpart.

He told the PT: “This is a very serious conviction and the law must take its course.

“Fiona should have taken these speeding points at the time. On a personal level I always got on well with Fiona.

“I found her to be very personable when discussing local issues. I used to see her regularly in the chamber.”

Ms Onasanya’s predecessor as MP for Peterborough Stewart Jackson, whom she defeated in the 2017 General Election, tweeted: “Whatever our differences I won’t join in any exulting in the downfall of @fionaonasanyaMP which is a personal tragedy.”

Leader of the Liberal Democrat group on Peterborough City Council, Cllr Nick Sandford said he believed Ms Onasanya should resign following her conviction.

He said: “I always found her okay. She was sometimes a bit slow to respond to emails but I always got on reasonably well with her.

“She has been convicted of something that casts doubt on her actual honesty. She was being untruthful and it’s difficult to see how someone can continue as an MP.”

Independent city councillor John Fox spoke to Ms Onasanya regularly when he was Mayor of Peterborough in 2017/18. He said: “I met her at several functions whilst being mayor. She came across as very pleasant, polite and professional and I got on well with her.

“She came out to Werrington a couple of times and met with residents and she was quite helpful.

“She came across as a genuine, nice person who cared and she used to shout out ‘Foxy’ and give me a hug.”

Green Party city councillor Julie Howell met Ms Onasanya on a couple of occasions. She said: “I feel very sad indeed for Peterborough. This is a dreadful blow for people’s confidence in politicians.

“From my brief encounter with her I found Fiona to be very pleasant and personable and the events that have unfolded have come as a shock to me as I’m sure they have to many people.”

Graham Whitehead, chairman of the Peterborough constituency branch for UKIP, said: “Following the guilty verdict I’m calling on Fiona Onasanya to immediately resign her position as Peterborough MP so that we can elect an honest, hardworking person to represent our interests.”

Patrick O’Flynn, the East of England MEP who recently defected from UKIP to the Social Democratic Party, tweeted: “Parliamentary by-election looming in Peterborough, where I have my MEP office. If before end of March it will be dominated by Brexit in a 60%+ Leave-voting seat.

“I’ve got some thinking to do!”