Peterborough MP Fiona Onasanya does not vote on first major Commons bill since conviction

Fiona Onasanya did not vote this evening on the first major House of Commons bill since her conviction for perverting the course of justice.

Tuesday, 8th January 2019, 9:34 pm
Updated Thursday, 10th January 2019, 2:53 pm
Fiona Onasanya pictured in Peterborough following her conviction. Photo: Terry Harris

House of Commons records on Hansard show the MP for Peterborough did not vote on amendments to the Finance Bill, including one from Labour MP Yvette Cooper which impacts the Government’s ability to prepare for a Brexit no deal.

Ms Cooper’s amendment passed by 303 votes to 296.

North West Cambridgeshire MP Shailesh Vara voted with the Government, as did Brexit Secretary and North East Cambridgeshire MP Steve Barclay, South Holland and The Deepings MP John Hayes and Corby and East Northamptonshire MP Tom Pursglove.

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Fiona Onasanya pictured in Peterborough following her conviction. Photo: Terry Harris

However, MP for Grantham and Stamford Nick Boles and Huntingdon MP Jonathan Djanogly were among 20 Tory rebels to vote against the Government.

All MPs in the Peterborough Telegraph’s catchment area, apart from Ms Onasanya, are Conservatives.

Ms Onasanya is currently sitting as an independent MP after Labour expelled her following her conviction at the Old Bailey last month.

A jury unanimously found that the MP had been lying about who was the driver of her Nissan Micra which was caught speeding in Thorney in July 2017.

Depending on her sentence which is expected later this month she could soon be forced out of her seat, prompting a by-election.

However, Ms Onasanya has hinted in a column for the Peterborough Telegraph, and in an alleged WhatsApp message to Labour MPs, that she wants to try and remain as an MP.

She has so far not spoken publicly since her conviction or referred to the trial in her PT columns despite attempts by this paper to speak to her.

Tonight’s historic amendment to the Finance Bill limits ministers’ ability to make tax changes connected to a no deal Brexit without Parliament’s “explicit consent”.

Jeremy Corbyn hailed it as an “important step” towards preventing a no deal break with Brussels.

Ms Onasanya’s spokesman confirmed last week that the MP was preparing to continue her duties once the Christmas recess ended on Monday.

It is unknown whether she was in the House of Commons for today’s votes.

Her spokesman has this evening been contacted for comment.

The independent MP’s column in this week’s PT is centred on Brexit and her intentions to vote down the withdrawal agreement next week.

Local politicians from Labour and across the political spectrum have been calling on Ms Onasanya to resign since her conviction so a by-election can be held.

The parties and their parliamentary candidates have stepped up their campaigning as they anticipate a by-election.

If Ms Onasanya 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 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.

Reacting to the passing of the amendment, Labour MEP for the East of England Alex Mayer said: “The sensible majority have spoken to send a clear message: no deal, no way. A no deal Brexit would be a disaster for Britain. Now let’s stop wasting time and have the vote on May’s deal too.”