The Speaker of the House of Commons has announced that Fiona Onasanya is no longer MP for Peterborough, following a successful recall petition.
The recall petition was opened after Ms Onasanya was convicted of perverting the course of justice and was subsequently sentenced to imprisonment for 3 months. The petition was open for six weeks from Tuesday 19 March to Wednesday 1 May 2019.
The petition was signed by 19,261 people, exceeding the 6,967 signatures needed to be successful. A by-election will be called in the constituency.
What is a recall petition?
A recall procedure was introduced in the UK in 2015. It only applies to Members of Parliament and was a response to the MPs’ expenses scandal that occurred in the run up to the 2010 General Election.
MPs can be recalled only under certain circumstances:
- If they are convicted in the UK of an offence and sentenced or ordered to be imprisoned or detained and all appeals have been exhausted (and the sentence does not lead to automatic disqualification from being an MP);
- If they are suspended from the House following report and recommended sanction from the Committee on Standards for a specified period (at least 10 sitting days, or at least 14 days if sitting days are not specified).;
- If they are convicted of an offence under section 10 of the Parliamentary Standards Act 2009 (making false or misleading Parliamentary allowances claims)
- Once a petition is open it is available for signing for six weeks and is administered by the local returning officer for the constituency. They are known as a petition officer when dealing with a recall petition.
For a recall petition to be successful, 10% of eligible registered voters need to sign the petition. If the required number is not reached the petition fails and the MP remains in post. If the 10% threshold is reached the petitions officer informs the Speaker of the House of Commons that the recall petition has been successful. On the giving of that notice the seat becomes vacant.
A by-election is then required and the recalled may stand as a candidate. The timing of a UK parliamentary by-election is determined by custom of the House of Commons: the party that previously held the seat will usually decide when to trigger the by-election.
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