First seat for the Brexit Party?

The Peterborough by election could be their chance

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Will the Brexit Party win their first seat in Peterborough?

By Joe Harker

Today's by-election in Peterborough is expected to give Nigel Farage's Brexit Party their first seat in the House of Commons.

The seat, won by Labour in 2017, is up for grabs after former MP Fiona Onasanya was convicted of perverting the course of justice and a successful recall petition triggered the vote.

The by-election is also seen as a challenge to Jeremy Corbyn's leadership, with the Daily Mirror reporting that failure to hold Peterborough will put him under more scrutiny.

The Claim:

The Brexit Party is the favourite to win the seat, with the Daily Express reporting that they have topped pre-election polls.

The result of the vote could put a Brexit Party MP in parliament and will be a test of how effective they are at taking votes from the Conservatives, who are expected to do poorly

Peterborough voted for Brexit during the referendum in 2016 and the Brexit Party gained the largest share of the vote during the European parliament elections.

Gaining a seat in the Commons would give the Brexit Party a new legitimacy and could mark another milestone in the progress it has made since being founded.

If the Brexit Party can swallow up enough votes to gain a majority in one seat then it will feel bolder about doing so in other seats. MPs in Leave voting constituencies will feel less secure in their position, knowing there is a party taking a harder line on Brexit than they do.

The Counter Claim:

Labour think they have a good chance of keeping the seat, arguing that their canvassing data shows their core vote remains strong in the constituency.

They also believe that Brexit isn't the main concern among voters in Peterborough, thinking that a focus on local issues will tip the scales in their favour. The Brexit Party, as suggested by their name, is primarily focused on one issue.

Labour argue that Peterborough would be better served by a politician who would represent them in all things, an MP from a party whose key goal isn't a something that could be resolved before the end of the year.

They think their chosen candidate, Lisa Forbes, will be well received among the voters as she has lived in the area for 30 years. She ran for the seat in 2015 and significantly cut into the majority of Stewart Jackson, the Tory MP who held the constituency.

The party believes that a high turnout will benefit them as those who back the Brexit Party are definitely heading to the polls, if Labour can get plenty of others down to a polling station they expect good things.

The Facts:

The Peterborough seat was vacated when Labour MP Fiona Onasanya was convicted of perverting the course of justice after lying about a speeding ticket. It's entirely possible that a speeding ticket is what gives the Brexit Party their first seat in the House of Commons.

Labour's hold on the seat is narrow, Onasanya winning it in 2017 by just 607 votes, making it a "super marginal" area. They took the seat from the Tories, who are not expected to perform well today.

The Daily Telegraph reports that the Conservatives are "in hiding" in the constituency and expect to lose most of their votes to the Brexit Party.

In the recent European parliament elections the Brexit Party took 39 per cent of the vote in Peterborough, with Labour coming second on 17 per cent. During the referendum in 2016 the constituency voted Leave by 60.9 per cent.

The Brexit Party's candidate for the election is Mike Greene, a businessman and former Conservative supporter. He also appeared on Channel 4 programme Secret Millionaire.

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