A piece by Will Humphries in today’s Times:
A Labour MP convicted of lying to police to avoid a speeding charge has been expelled from the party.
Fiona Onasanya, 35, was suspended by Labour last month on the day of her conviction for perverting the course of justice. Ian Lavery, the party chairman, has announced that she was expelled the next day after she refused to stand down and allow a new Labour candidate to fight a by-election.
Onasanya, who is now an independent MP for Peterborough, had said she would to continue as the city’s “representative in the corridors of power”.
In a review of her year in the Peterborough Telegraph she did not mention her conviction but expressed her determination to stay in parliament, saying there was “still much more to be done”.
Mr Lavery told the newspaper in comment published yesterday: “Fiona isn’t a member of the Labour Party, she isn’t a Labour MP. People here in Peterborough voted for a Labour MP. She was suspended from the party and she was expected to resign. She hasn’t, regrettably.
“We would still at this very last moment suggest the best thing would be for Fiona to act responsibly and resign. We would be raring to go for a by-election. We’re up for it.”
MPs are disqualified from keeping their seat if they are sentenced to more than a year in jail. Onasanya will be sentenced at the Old Bailey at a future date. Under laws introduced in 2015 any prison term, even a suspended one, can trigger a recall petition, which can force a by-election if it is signed by 10 per cent of voters in a constituency.
Asked if Labour would campaign for residents in Peterborough to sign a recall petition if one were opened, Mr Lavery said: “Labour would actively support the recall of an MP under the Recall of MPs Act 2015.”
Last month The Times reported that Onasanya had sent a message to WhatsApp groups with other MPs after her conviction in which she compared herself to Jesus and Moses. “I campaigned for justice and for the interests of ordinary people throughout my entire working life to date, but it is this which has made both national and international press,” she wrote. “Christ . . . was accused and convicted by the courts of his day and yet this was not his end but rather the beginning of the next chapter in his story.” She asked people to pray for her and her family.
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