Belfast Telegraph

Ian Paisley: How DUP MP could lose his seat... and the likely effects

John Bercow
John Bercow

Ian Paisley's 30-day ban from the House of Commons has the potential to trigger a by-election in North Antrim.

How could this happen?

The Recall of MPs Act 2015 - which actually came into force on March 4, 2016 - introduced a process by which an MP will lose their seat if a petition to recall them is successful.

Who opens the petition?

According to the Electoral Commission, Westminster's Petition Officer will open a recall petition after the House of Commons Speaker - currently John Bercow (below) - notifies them that an MP has been:

• Convicted of an offence and received a custodial sentence (including a suspended sentence) or ordered to be detained, other than solely under mental health legislation.

• Barred from the House of Commons for 10 sitting days or 14 calendar days.

• Convicted of providing false or misleading information for allowance claims under the Parliamentary Standards Act 2009.

If the suspension goes ahead, Mr Paisley would fall into the second category here.

What happens next?

The recall petition remains open for signing for six weeks.

If at least 10% of the electorate in the North Antrim constituency signs the petition, the MP will lose their seat and a by-election will be triggered.

Mr Paisley would be allowed to stand as a candidate at the by-election.

Could the process be stopped?

The recall petition will be terminated early if:

• The MP's seat is made vacant for any other reason - such as resignation. • The MP's conviction, sentence of imprisonment or detention order is overturned.

• Parliament calls an early UK general election, which will be held within six months of the Speaker's notice.

Any other consequences?

As Mr Paisley's suspension starts on September 4, it could mean Prime Minister Theresa May will be shorn of one of the 10 DUP MPs propping up her minority Government during a period that could see a number of crucial Brexit votes in the House of Commons.

If rubber-stamped, the 30-day suspension could go on until conference season, when Parliament is in recess, meaning Mr Paisley could be away from Westminster until well into the autumn.

Belfast Telegraph


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