What is a 'recall petition' and why has it been triggered?

A recall petition was triggered in the House of Commons against Scott Benton, MP for Blackpool South. Credit: House of Commons

A 'recall petition' has been triggered in the House of Commons to determine whether MP for Blackpool South, Scott Benton, should lose his seat.

'Recall petitions' are used to trigger an election to remove an MP from their role, away from scheduled elections.

In the UK, a recall can only be started under specific circumstances:

  • An MP is convicted of an offence and receives a custodial sentence (including a suspended sentence) for a year of less.

  • The House of Commons suspends an MP following a report from the Committee on Standards.

  • The MP in question has been convicted of an offences under section 10 of the Parliamentary Standards Act 2009, which would see them providing false or misleading information for allowances claims.

In the case of Scott Benton, a recall petition was launched after he was suspended from the Commons for 35 days, after offering to lobby ministers over gambling.

Mr Benton was caught by the Times offering to lobby minister over gambling. Credit: PA Images

Once one of the conditions has been met, all eligible voters within a constituency can go to a maximum of 10 locations to sign the petition.

Those locations will remain open for a duration of six weeks.

Voters will sign a sheet, and place it in a sealed ballot box, similar to polling stations during a general election.

The counting of signing sheets are also completed in a similar way to ballot papers.

If at least 10% of the registered electorate sign the petition, then the seat becomes vacant which would trigger a by-election.

Voters sign a signing sheet and then place it in a sealed ballot box. Credit: PA Images

A recall petition cannot be launched if a general election is due to be held within the next six months, and it would be halted if an early election was called.

If a sitting MP is convicted of any offence and receives a custodial sentence of more than a year, they automatically lose their seat.

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