Fiona Onasanya has been kicked out of Parliament by her angry constituents in Peterborough.
A Recall Petition which closed today (Wednesday) was signed by 19,261 of her constituents, passing the 10 per cent threshold needed to trigger a by-election.
This is the first time in British politics a sitting MP has been removed by their constituents in this way, with 27.64 per cent of eligible voters signing the petition. Sixty two signatures were rejected.
The result was announced by Peterborough’s returning officer Gillian Beasley at around 6.30pm once the final signatures had been counted.
A by-election has now been called for June 6.
Ms Onasanya sparked outrage after she refused to step down following her conviction in December for perverting the course of justice.
A jury unanimously convicted the MP of lying about who was driving her car when it was caught speeding in Thorney in July 2017.
She was sentenced to three months in prison for the crime but only served four weeks before being released on licence.
The prison sentence automatically triggered the Recall Petition which her constituents had six weeks to sign.
Seven candidates have already been chosen by their parties to contest the upcoming by-election which will gain huge national attention due to the ongoing Brexit impasse and Peterborough’s support for Leave at the 2016 referendum, as well as the city’s history as a swing seat.
Nigel Farage has tonight confirmed that the Brexit Party will field a candidate in the by-election, while the anti-Brexit Renew Party has also indicated it will contest the seat.
Controversial former Labour MP George Galloway also tonight announced on social media that he intends to fight the seat.
Ms Onasanya, who unsuccessfully appealed her conviction and continues to maintain her innocence, was elected as a Labour MP but was expelled by the party the day after her conviction.
She has not indicated whether she will stand in the by-election and has never directly commented on the Recall Petition.
SDP candidate for Peterborough Patrick O’Flynn said: “This whole process has taken far too long and left the people of Peterborough without proper parliamentary representation for months, but finally we can now look forward to a new MP being elected in a by-election.
“As SDP candidate in that contest I will be endeavouring to make sure that the betrayal of Brexit by the establishment parties is a big issue, along with the need to invest in our local NHS, police and other key public services.”
UKIP candidate John Whitby said: “It’s no great surprise that the people of Peterborough have reacted so strongly to the opportunity to recall our disgraced MP and have made history as a result.
“If you vote UKIP, suddenly the Westminster politicians will listen to Peterborough and the unheard voters in the UK and start to do what we instruct them.”
Labour candidate Lisa Forbes said: “It is great news for our city that the petition to recall Fiona Onasanya has passed. We in the Labour Party campaigned hard to pass this petition, and the people of Peterborough have clearly said that they want a fresh start and an MP who will bring honesty and integrity to the role.
“We face a lot of challenges in our city, from the rising crime to the falling school standards. We now have the chance to change this, with a by-election to be announced soon we can offer the people of Peterborough the fresh start and better deal they deserve.!
Conservative candidate Paul Bristow said: “The people of Peterborough deserve a better MP who will vote in Parliament to deliver Brexit. I’m delighted this result gives local people the chance to make their voices heard and vote for a better MP – and it will be a choice between Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour candidate and me.
“I’ll be fighting hard throughout this campaign to show why it is only a Conservative MP who can truly tackle crime and deliver the jobs and investment Peterborough needs, as well as to ensure Brexit is a success for the local community.”
Lib Dem candidate Beki Sellick said: “Brexit is the issue on Peterborough doorsteps, even when we’re out campaigning for tomorrow’s local elections.
“People tell me ‘the Tories aren’t delivering the Brexit I wanted’ and ‘we’re Labour, but we can’t vote for Corbyn’.
“When people hear what we stand for, they like it; when they meet me, they can believe in me. Peterborough wants an honest and straightforward local MP to work for the good of everyone here.”
The Recall Petition, which cost the Government approximately £500,000 to run, opened on March 19 and lasted for six weeks, with constituents able to sign it at one of 10 signing places, or by posting in a postal signing form.
It needed 6,967 signatures for the MP to lose her seat.
The council had sent out 13,000 postal signing forms, but the number of signatures throughout the process remained a closely guarded secret with only a few people knowing the running total.
The media was also not allowed to speculate on how many people may have been signing it.
The PT can now reveal that while the petition was active it was contacted by many residents in the south of the city wondering why they could not sign it, not realising that they live in the neighbouring North West Cambridgeshire constituency.
The Speaker of the House of Commons, John Bercow, had to be notified by the council of the Recall Petition result before it could be revealed to the public.
The Speaker will now issue a writ to the council calling a by-election, which must be held between 21 and 27 working days after the writ is received.
Recall Petitions came into force in 2016 and this is the first time one has been held in England.
The only previous petition was against Democratic Unionist Party MP Ian Paisley Jr who narrowly avoided being recalled after he was suspended from the House of Commons for 30 days last July for failing to declare two holidays paid for by the Sri Lankan government.
That Recall Petition was signed by 9.4 per cent of voters in his North Antrim constituency.
Ms Onasanya has continued to protest her innocence despite losing her appeal over her conviction. The day before the Recall Petition opened the MP released a video where, sitting in front of a backdrop of New York, she pleaded with constituents not to kick her out of office, adding: “I will continue to be your voice for change in Parliament for as long as you wish me to do so.”
Ms Onasanya was seen as a rising star in the Labour Party before her conviction after being promoted to become a whip.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn also campaigned alongside her in 2017 in the run-up to her election victory.
Mr Corbyn was back in the city on Saturday campaigning ahead of tomorrow’s local elections.
Asked on the day whether he wanted residents to sign the Recall Petition, he replied: “They should sign it.
He added: “I’m very sad with what happened to her, but we have to move on.”