Labour fights off Brexit Party to take Peterborough by-election
There was disappointment for Nigel Farage as his new party failed to secure its first MP in a closely-fought contest.
Labour has fought off a strong challenge from Nigel Farage’s new Brexit Party to win the Peterborough by-election.
Unite activist Lisa Forbes was elected with a majority of 683 over the Brexit Party in a closely-fought contest.
The result will come as a disappointment to Mr Farage, who had been hoping his party would secure its first MP less than six months after it formed.
It will, however, be a relief for Jeremy Corbyn after Labour’s dismal showing in the European elections amid criticism that it had failed to take a clear line on Brexit.
The by-election was called after Peterborough’s previous MP Fiona Onasanya was forced out after she was jailed for lying about a speeding offence.
The fact that the Brexit Party have been rejected here in Peterborough shows that the politics of division will not win Lisa Forbes, Labour
Onasanya was elected as a Labour MP in 2017 with a wafer thin majority of 607 but was suspended from the party after she was sentenced.
Labour won 10,484 votes to the Brexit Party’s 9,801.
It was another dismal night for the Tories, who were beaten into third place with 7,243 votes in a seat which is a traditional two-way Conservative-Labour marginal.
The Liberal Democrats were fourth with 4,159, while the Greens came fifth with 1,035 votes.
Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn said the result was a rejection of the Conservatives’ “disastrous” handling of Brexit.
We will be back. Let's see what does happen in the next general election Mike Greene, Brexit Party
“In this key seat, the Conservatives have been pushed to the margins,” he said.
“This result shows that in spite of the divisions and deadlock over Brexit, when it comes to a vote on the issues that directly affect people’s lives, Labour’s case for real change has strong support across the country.”
In her victory address, Ms Forbes hailed the result as a defeat for the Brexit Party’s “politics of division”.
“Despite the differing opinions across our city, the fact that the Brexit Party have been rejected here in Peterborough shows that the politics of division will not win,” she said.
The seat, which voted 60.9% in favour of Leave in the 2016 referendum, had been regarded as fertile ground for Mr Farage’s party.
In the event, however, they were unable to build on the momentum of their triumph in last month’s European elections to take them over the line.
With a relatively high turnout for a by-election of 48.4%, the defeated Brexit Party candidate Mike Greene said they had been unable to match Labour’s organisation on the ground.
“Two parties have been ruling this country for decades. That is not happening any more. We were ahead of the Tories, only 683 votes behind Labour,” he told Sky News.
“They have decades of data. We had nothing just four weeks ago. We did not have the vote numbers they had. We didn’t have the voting history they have.
“We will be back. Let’s see what does happen in the next general election.”