Eighth party set to contest anticipated Peterborough by-election as MP Fiona Onasanya faces recall petition

An eighth political party is set to put forward a candidate for the anticipated by-election in Peterborough.

Tuesday, 5th March 2019, 4:53 pm
Updated Wednesday, 6th March 2019, 7:55 am

The centrist Renew Party has revealed it intends to stands in the city should a vote be held later this year.

The anti-Brexit party, which launched in 2018, says it is made up of people from outside politics and is “dedicated to the restoration of our country’s broken political system”.

Current MP for Peterborough Fiona Onasanya faces being recalled by her constituents after losing her appeal for perverting the course of justice at the Court of Appeal today (Tuesday, March 5).

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Fiona Onasanya (right) arriving outside The Royal Courts of Justice where she unsuccessfully tried to challenge her conviction. Photo: Yui Mok/PA Wire

The 35-year-old solicitor was expelled from the Labour Party after being found guilty in December last year of lying about who was driving her car when it was caught speeding in Thorney in July 2017.

She was jailed for three months at the Old Bailey in January and was released from prison after serving one month behind bars.

The independent MP, who was expelled by Labour the day after her conviction, now faces a recall petition which will open in the coming days.

If 10 per cent of her constituents sign it within six weeks then it will trigger a by-election.

Renew today called for Peterborough City Council - which is running the recall petition - to ensure that the maximum number of polling stations are opened for people to sign it.

It highlighted that only three polling sites were opened during the only previous recall petition, which saw Democratic Unionist Party MP Ian Paisley Jr, narrowly avoid losing his seat.

Mr Paisley was suspended from the House of Commons for 30 days for failing to declare two holidays paid for by the Sri Lankan government.

The recall petition was signed by 9.4 per cent of voters in his North Antrim constituency.

Renew’s leader Annabel Mullin said: “With the announcement of the loss of the MP Fiona Onasanya’s appeal against her conviction, we at Renew feel strongly that this is an opportunity for the people of Peterborough to put Onasanya’s failures behind them and choose a better kind of politics.

“For this reason, it is critically important that Peterborough City Council learns the lessons from the only other recall procedure, held in Northern Ireland.

“During this event there were only three polling stations open during MP Ian Paisley’s recall petition and he survived when only 9.4 per cent of the required 10 per cent voted.

“At the time, some claimed that people who wanted to vote were put off by the inconvenience of having to travel so far to get to a polling station.

“We are therefore calling on Peterborough City Council to ensure the maximum number of polling sites - 10 - are deployed for this petition. This will ensure that Fiona Onasanya can be held fully accountable, with Peterborough’s constituents having their say no matter where they live.

“It is important to note that recall procedures are funded by the central government, so having the maximum number of stations does not take money away from local services.”

The Peterborough Telegraph has asked the council how many polling stations will be open but so far there has been no confirmation.

The confirmed candidates if there is a by-election are: Paul Bristow (Conservative), Lisa Forbes (Labour), Beki Sellick (Liberal Democrat), John Whitby (UKIP), Joseph Wells (Green Party), Patrick O’Flynn (SDP) and Alan “Howling Laud” Hope (Monster Raving Loony Party).

Reacting to the news that Ms Onasanya lost her appeal today, Labour Party chair Ian Lavery said: “Labour will now actively support local residents to trigger a by-election through the recall petition.

“The people of this great city voted for a Labour MP, and that’s what they deserve.

“They need a Labour MP who’ll stand up for them against this shambolic Tory Government and a hopeless Conservative council who can’t even sort out fly-tipping.

“Peterborough Labour Party has already selected an excellent local candidate in Lisa Forbes and we are on the ground, campaigning.

“We look forward to helping the people of Peterborough secure that successful recall petition and then campaign for a Labour MP who’ll deliver for the many not the few.”

Mr Whitby said: “Peterborough’s residents have been badly let down by Ms Onasanya whom they placed their trust and confidence in at the ballot box. She has broken that bond of trust by choosing to lie to the authorities repeatedly which led to her conviction for perverting the course of justice.

“They can no longer have confidence in her to represent them and so UKIP will be campaigning hard over the next six weeks to ensure Ms Onasanya is recalled and a by-election is triggered.”