In Brief

Labour beats Brexit Party to win Peterborough by-election

Lisa Forbes takes Cambridgeshire seat by a margin of 683 votes

Labour has won the Peterborough by-election, denying Nigel Farage's Brexit Party its first seat in the House of Commons.

Lisa Forbes took the seat with 10,484 votes, ahead of the Brexit Party's Mike Greene, who had 9,801 votes. Tory candidate Paul Bristow finished third with 7,243 votes, with the Liberal Democrats fourth and the Greens in fifth. Turnout was 48%. 

Sky News described it as “a disappointing result for Mr Farage's party, given 60% of voters in the area backed Brexit in the 2016 referendum”. According to the BBC, the Brexit Party had largely steered clear of local issues as it had hoped to win “on national issues and discontent with the ‘Westminster elite’”.

The outcome was a “setback for Farage’s fledgling party”, The Guardian says, and “the victory will help Corbyn in his fight with critics within the party who have tried to persuade the Labour leader to change course over Brexit”.

The Times points out that the result “bucked a YouGov national survey, taken on the eve of the by-election, which showed the Brexit Party leading all other parties on 26 per cent, with Labour and the Liberal Democrats tied on 20 per cent”.

In a victory speech, Forbes said the result had “shown that the politics of hope can win regardless of the odds.” She added: “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.”

Brexit Party candidate Mike Greene told Sky News: “Two parties have been ruling this country for decades. That's not happening anymore. We were ahead of the Tories, we were a little bit behind - only 680 votes - behind Labour. We'll be back.” Nigel Farage made a brief appearance at the count but left without talking to the media.

Commenting on the result, Jeremy Corbyn said voters had “shown clear support for Labour's programme to end austerity and invest in services and communities”.

He added: “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.”

The by-election was triggered by the first ever successful recall petition against a sitting MP. Fiona Onasanya was removed by constituents after she was found guilty of perverting the course of justice after lying about a speeding offence. She had won the seat for Labour with a narrow majority of 607 at the 2017 general election.

Forbes had faced a storm in the week before polling day over a Facebook post she “liked” which said Prime Minister Theresa May had a “Zionist slave masters agenda”.

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