Peterborough MP Fiona Onasanya to continue duties as she returns to House of Commons
Fiona Onasanya will continue her duties as MP for Peterborough ahead of being sentenced for perverting the course of justice despite widespread calls for her to step down.
Ms Onasanya is due to return to the House of Commons today (Monday, January 7) following the Christmas recess and is due to vote on the EU withdrawal agreement next week.
Her spokesman has also confirmed to the Peterborough Telegraph that she will meet with constituents privately and with groups and charities - the latest sign that she wants to remain in her role going forward.
Ms Onasanya has kept a low profile since a jury unanimously found her guilty a fortnight ago of lying about who was the driver of her Nissan Micra which was caught speeding in Thorney in July 2017.
So far she has not spoken publicly about the verdict despite attempts by the PT to contact her. However, she used her column for the PT two weeks ago to strongly hint that she wants to carry on as an MP.
Ms Onasanya wrote about fighting “injustices”, adding: “There is still much more to be done, and you can rest assured that I will continue to do so as your representative in the corridors of power.”
The column was widely covered in the national media but prompted anger from many of Ms Onasanya’s constituents on social media who are demanding that she step down immediately.
The Labour Party has expelled Ms Onasanya and called on her to quit as an MP.
That call has been echoed by other city politicians.
After the jury found Ms Onasanya guilty, leader of the Liberal Democrat group on Peterborough City Council Cllr Nick Sandford said: “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.”
Green Party city councillor Julie Howell said the guilty verdict cast a “dreadful blow for people’s confidence in politicians,” while Graham Whitehead, chairman of the Peterborough constituency branch for UKIP, demanded Ms Onasanya’s resignation so that constituents can “elect an honest, hardworking person to represent our interests.”
The Peterborough branch of the Conservative Party has also been promoting a petition calling on Ms Onasanya to quit, although the petition has no power to force the MP out of her office.
Ms Onasanya is currently sitting as an independent MP.
She is due to be sentenced later this month, but a date has not yet been confirmed. If she is sentenced to a year or more in prison (including if it is a suspended sentence) then she will lose her seat.
Any custodial or suspended sentence of less than a year which is not appealed would automatically trigger a recall petition, which would be run by Peterborough City Council chief executive and returning officer Gillian Beasley.
If 10 per cent of her constituents signed it within six weeks, Ms Onasanya would lose her seat and a by-election would be triggered, which she could stand in.
Ms Onasanya’s column for the PT last week focused on homelessness. She has so far not referred to her trial in any of her PT columns and is not expected to comment publicly on it before her sentencing.
Ms Onasanya’s brother Festus is due to be sentenced on the same day as her after pleading guilty to three counts of perverting the course of justice, including in relation to his sister’s case.