Peterborough byelection 2019 is an opportunity to succeed for some, but an opportunity to fail for others.
It has been a busy year in British politics, and 2019 is only half over. Eleven MPs, both Labour and Tories, quit and started Change UK – The Independent Group. Conservatives lost big in the English local elections. Both the Conservatives, and to a lesser extent Labour, got smoked in the European Union elections. Theresa May and Vince Cable are quitting their leadership posts, the former meaning there will be a new prime minister. Finally, Brexit hangs over all of it, and a new party was born to try to see it through to the end.
For the Tory government, it seems as though it has been one humiliation after another this year. We’re not just talking about Theresa May’s failed attempts to get her Brexit deal through the House of Commons, either. They are getting down into historical lows for opinion polling, making it possible they could be reduced to 1997 seat levels if an election were held soon.1
When the Peterborough constituency became vacant, in another place and time, the Conservatives would see this as an opportunity to get back a seat they narrowly lost in 2017. Who knows what will happen now. Fifteen candidates are contesting it and votes will scatter all over the place. Labour will have a tough time holding it, but the Tories will also have difficulty winning it. Is this a coming House of Commons breakthrough for the Brexit Party?
Following the election on 6 June 2019, you can track the results below with us.
2016 Brexit Referendum Results: Peterborough
Peterborough voted in overwhelming fashion to leave the European Union, with Leave taking almost 61 percent.
2017 General Election Results: Peterborough
Stewart Jackson, a stalwart Brexit supporter, lost his seat in the 2017 election to Fiona Onasanya of Labour. Onasanya is a Remainer, the side that lost in 2016, which shows just how much things changed in Peterborough in a year.
Peterborough Byelection 2019 Background
With Onasanya’s win in 2017, a Remain supporter picked up a seat that swung towards Leave. The victory, though narrow, was an important one for Labour as they denied the Tories a majority in that election.
Her happy times in Parliament as a Labour whip would last just one year. During the summer of 2018, she was criminally charged with “perverting the course of justice” as a result of having been caught for speeding a year earlier. Onasanya was put on trial twice; the first jury could not reach a verdict, but the second one found her guilty. She served time in prison, but while that happened, the Labour Party expelled her and a recall petition began. When the recall threshold was reached, Onasanya was removed from her seat. She was the first MP to be recalled under the Recall of MPs Act 2015.2
Peterborough Byelection 2019 Candidates
A total of 15 candidates seek Peterborough this time. Labour nominated Lisa Forbes, while the Conservatives put up Paul Bristow. The Brexit Party candidate is Mike Greene, and the Lib Dems are running Beki Sellick, who contested the seat in 2017.
Peterborough Byelection 2019 Analysis
This is going to be a free-for-all in Peterborough. The Brexit Party does have a chance, given the sheer number of candidates splitting the vote and the fact that this is true-blue Leave territory.
There is more to the story, however. The leaderless Conservative Party is in tatters. Labour’s last MP here was run out of town in disgrace and Lisa Forbes got herself into some hot water just days before the election. She was accused of backing anti-Semitic posts on Facebook, for which she apologized.3 More Remain votes may consolidate behind the Lib Dems, but they were not even close back in 2017.
British voters are abandoning the two leading parties in droves, or at least that’s what the EU elections and recent opinion polls say. The Peterborough by-election will test whether or not that is true.
Peterborough Byelection 2019 Results: 6 June 2019
Lisa Forbes won the seat for Labour, increasing the party’s majority by a small handful of votes to 683.
In second place came the fledgling Brexit Party and its candidate, Mike Greene, with almost 29 percent of the vote. The Conservatives, who held the seat several years ago, came in third with just 21 percent. The Lib Dems finished fourth on 12 percent while the Green Party came in fifth and UKIP was in sixth place.
Peterborough Byelection 2019 Results Analysis
Did you imagine we would be in a scenario where Labour would shed 17 percent of vote share in a marginal seat and still win it? They can thank the mile-wide crack in the centre-right vote thanks to Brexit. The Conservatives lost over half of their vote share with the Brexit Party passing them into second place.
It was not a great vote for Labour but they will take it. This is also a very ominous sign for the Conservatives that much of their vote is not coming home until Brexit is delivered, one way or another, and that even though Labour is taking their knocks, they can still win the next election. Tory headquarters probably wishes they could push Theresa May out of the leadership tomorrow – oh wait, she is leaving tomorrow. Perfect timing, Madam Prime Minister.
Despite losing, this was a decent showing for the Brexit Party, though they would have hoped to do better in a seat that voted over 60 percent Leave.
The Liberal Democrats did fine, jumping nine percent from last time and posting their best result here since 2010. Remainers, however, seemed to align behind Labour this time to keep the Brexit Party out, though it almost did not work.
1: “Opinion polling for the next United Kingdom general election” (Wikipedia web site, accessed 2 June 2019)
2: “Speeding offence MP ousted under recall rules” (BBC News web site, published 1 May 2019, accessed 2 June 2019)
3: “Labour urged to disown candidate who endorsed antisemitic Facebook post” (by Lizzy Buchan, The Independent web site, published 2 June 2019, accessed 2 June 2019)
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