2019 Peterborough by-election

A by-election took place in the Parliamentary constituency of Peterborough on 6 June 2019.[1] It was won by Lisa Forbes of the Labour Party. Mike Greene of the Brexit Party took second place.[2]

2019 Peterborough by-election

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Peterborough constituency
  First party Second party
  No image.svg
Candidate Lisa Forbes Mike Greene
Party Labour Brexit Party
Last election 48.1% New party
Popular vote 10,484 9,801
Percentage 30.9% 28.9%
Swing Decrease 17.2% New party

  Third party Fourth party
Candidate Paul Bristow Beki Sellick
Party Conservative Liberal Democrats
Last election 46.8% 3.3%
Popular vote 7,243 4,159
Percentage 21.4% 12.3%
Swing Decrease 25.5% Increase 8.9%

Boundary of Peterborough in Cambridgeshire.

MP before election

Fiona Onasanya

Elected MP

Lisa Forbes

The seat was vacant following the removal of the former Labour MP Fiona Onasanya by means of a recall petition triggered by her conviction for perverting the course of justice.[3]


Labour candidate Fiona Onasanya was elected to represent Peterborough at the 2017 general election, defeating Stewart Jackson, the sitting Conservative MP, by 607 votes.[4]

Following a conviction for perverting the course of justice in relation to a motoring offence in 2017 which resulted in an immediate prison sentence, Onasanya was expelled from the Labour Party in January 2019.[5][6] She remained in Parliament, where she sat as an independent, and continued to protest her innocence.

A recall petition in her constituency was signed by 27.6% of the electorate, more than the 10% threshold required. As a result, the seat fell vacant on 1 May. This was the second recall petition since the Recall of MPs Act 2015, and the first successful use of the procedure to remove a sitting MP.[7]

In the 2016 European Union referendum, 62.1% of voters in the Peterborough City Council areawhich covers the constituency and part of North West Cambridgeshirevoted to leave the European Union. At the European Parliament election, held two weeks before the by-election, the Brexit Party was in first position in the council area, receiving 38.3% of votes.[8]

Candidates and campaignEdit

The list of 15 nominated candidates was announced on 9 May.[9][10] Anticipating the recall petition's success, several parties announced candidates before it had even opened.[11]

Although not disqualified from seeking to regain her seat, Onasanya did not fight the by-election.[12] Former Labour and Respect Party MP George Galloway announced his intention to stand on a pro-Brexit position[13][14] and sought the Brexit Party candidacy, but he was not selected. Although Galloway had mooted standing as an independent,[15] he did not do so.[16]

The Liberal Democrat campaign focused on opposition to Brexit and calling for a second referendum.[14] Change UK, the Liberal Democrats, the Green Party and Renew were close to supporting a joint Remain candidate,[17] Femi Oluwole of Our Future Our Choice,[18] but they ultimately opted to stand their own candidates,[9] except for Change UK. Change UK's Gavin Shuker said the plan was stymied by Labour, who he said made clear that Labour would "strenuously" disrupt a joint Remain campaign.[19] Change UK reportedly blamed Labour-aligned figures in the People's Vote campaign. Oluwole denied being pressured by Labour sources, but said he was concerned about splitting the Labour vote and allowing the Brexit Party to win.[20][21]

Four days before the election, Labour was urged by Jewish leaders to disown its candidate Lisa Forbes after she was reported as endorsing a Facebook post that contained an antisemitic phrase.[22]

Brexit Party candidate Mike Greene was criticised for profiteering from freehold properties and his involvement with Greybull Capital, a private investment group involved in the May 2019 collapse of British Steel. A spokesman for Greene stated that he was never an active participant in running the investment vehicle.[23]

When polls closed, the Brexit Party had been heavily favoured in bookmakers' odds to win, with Labour generally thought to be in second place.[24]


2019 by-election: Peterborough[25][26]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Labour Lisa Forbes 10,484 30.91 −17.16
Brexit Party Mike Greene 9,801 28.89 N/A
Conservative Paul Bristow 7,243 21.35 −25.45
Liberal Democrats Beki Sellick 4,159 12.26 +8.92
Green Joseph Wells 1,035 3.05 +1.27
UKIP John Whitby 400 1.18 N/A
Christian Peoples Alliance Tom Rogers 162 0.49 N/A
English Democrat Stephen Goldspink 153 0.45 N/A
SDP Patrick O'Flynn 135 0.40 N/A
Monster Raving Loony Alan "Howling Laud" Hope 112 0.33 N/A
No description Andrew Moore 101 0.30 N/A
Common Good Dick Rodgers 60 0.18 N/A
Renew Peter Ward 45 0.13 N/A
UK EU Pierre Kirk 25 0.07 N/A
No description Bobby Smith 5 0.01 N/A
Majority 683 2.0 +0.7
Turnout 33,920 48.43 −19.07
Labour hold

The winner's percentage of the total vote (30.9%) was the lowest at a by-election since the 1946 Combined English Universities by-election (30.0%). However, there have been twelve lower winning shares in general elections.

Reaction and AftermathEdit

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn welcomed the result as an endorsement of his party's stance: "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".[27]

Despite the loss, Brexit Party candidate Mike Greene characterised the result as a significant breakthrough for his party, claiming to have "shaken up British politics".[27] Party leader Nigel Farage attended the count, but he left before the result was announced.[28]

After the Brexit Party questioned the validity of the result, five electoral fraud allegations were investigated.[29] It was claimed that Tariq Mahmood, who was jailed in 2008 for postal vote interference, had played a role in the Labour Party campaign for the by-election.[30] Labour denied he had had any role in the campaign, although he did attend the count as a member of the public.[29] The Brexit Party announced on 24 June 2019 that they would be lodging a review petition under the Representation of the People Act 1983.[31] On 15 July, Cambridgeshire Constabulary announced the final conclusion of their investigations and determined that no offences had been committed.[32][33]

Ultimately Lisa Forbes' hold on the seat lasted for just six months. When a general election was held was held in December 2019, Paul Bristow captured the seat for the Conservatives with a majority of over 2,500 votes.[34][35]

Previous resultEdit

2017 general election: Peterborough[36]
Party Candidate Votes % ±
Labour Fiona Onasanya 22,950 48.1 +12.5
Conservative Stewart Jackson 22,343 46.8 +7.1
Liberal Democrats Beki Sellick 1,597 3.3 −0.4
Green Fiona Radić 848 1.8 −0.8
Majority 607 1.3
Turnout 47,738 67.5 +2.6
Labour gain from Conservative Swing +2.7


  1. ^ "This is when the Peterborough by-election will be held". Peterborough Telegraph. 1 May 2019. Retrieved 1 May 2019.
  2. ^ "Peterborough by-election: Labour beats Brexit Party to hold seat". BBC News. 7 June 2019. Retrieved 7 June 2019.
  3. ^ "Recall petition result: Fiona Onasanya no longer Peterborough's MP". ITV News. 1 May 2019.
  4. ^ Lamy, Joel (9 June 2017). "BREAKING VIDEO: Stewart Jackson loses Peterborough seat to Labour after recount". Peterborough Today. Retrieved 21 May 2019.
  5. ^ Lamy, Joel (3 January 2019). "Fiona Onasanya expelled by Labour as party chief tells Peterborough voters – 'you were failed'". Peterborough Telegraph. Retrieved 4 January 2019.
  6. ^ Sabbagh, Dan (4 January 2019). "Labour confirms expulsion of convicted MP Fiona Onasanya". The Guardian. London.
  7. ^ Syal, Rajeev (1 May 2019). "Disgraced MP Fiona Onasanya loses seat after recall petition". The Guardian. Retrieved 1 May 2019.
  8. ^ Lynne, Freddie (27 May 2019). "This is how Peterborough voted in the European Elections". Cambridge News. Retrieved 4 June 2019.
  9. ^ a b "Statement of Persons Nominated" (PDF). Peterborough City Council. 9 May 2019.
  10. ^ "Peterborough by-election: Fifteen candidates to fight seat". BBC News. 9 May 2019. Retrieved 9 May 2019.
  11. ^ Lamy, Joel (29 January 2019). "Selection of next Peterborough Labour Party candidate will be more rigorous than Fiona Onasanya selection". Peterborough Today. Retrieved 11 May 2019.
  12. ^ "Ousted MP Fiona Onasanya will not fight Peterborough by-election". BBC News. 3 May 2019. Retrieved 3 May 2019.
  13. ^ George Galloway [@georgegalloway] (1 May 2019). "I intend to stand in the forthcoming parliamentary by-election in Peterborough. More follows..." (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  14. ^ a b Murphy, Joe (2 May 2019). "Brexit candidates may split Peterborough vote after jailed MP ousted". Evening Standard.
  15. ^ Crerar, Pippa (1 May 2019). "NEW: @georgegalloway tells me that he has approached @Nigel_Farage directly to say he wants to stand in Peterborough by-election for his Brexit Party. But if not selected, he could stand as an independent".
  16. ^ Lamy, Joel (8 May 2019). "Peterborough by-election: George Galloway withdraws from contest after missing out on Brexit Party nomination". www.peterboroughtoday.co.uk. Retrieved 9 May 2019.
  17. ^ Read, Jonathon (8 May 2019). "Anti-Brexit parties considering a Remain candidate for by-election". The New European. Retrieved 8 May 2019.
  18. ^ Peston, Robert (9 May 2019). "How Brexit Party was almost pitched against a sole referendum candidate in Peterborough writes Peston". ITV News. Retrieved 21 May 2019.
  19. ^ "Peterborough by-election contenders named". 9 May 2019. Retrieved 21 May 2019 – via www.bbc.co.uk.
  20. ^ Maguire, Patrick (9 May 2019). "What failure to agree a Remain candidate in Peterborough means for Change UK". New Statesman. Retrieved 21 May 2019.
  21. ^ Oluwole, Femi (10 May 2019). "I was asked to stand for Remain in the Peterborough by-election – this is why I said no". The Independent. Retrieved 10 May 2019.
  22. ^ Buchan, Lizzy (2 June 2019). "Labour urged to disown by-election candidate who endorsed antisemitic Facebook post". The Independent. Retrieved 3 June 2019.
  23. ^ Syal, Rajeev (5 June 2019). "Brexit party's MP candidate under fire for freehold profiteering". The Guardian. Retrieved 5 June 2019.
  24. ^ Woodcock, Andrew (5 June 2019). "Nigel Farage makes final drive to win Brexit Party's first MP". The Independent. Retrieved 7 June 2019.
  25. ^ "Live Peterborough by-election 2019 updates". Cambridgeshire Live. 7 June 2019. Retrieved 7 June 2019.
  26. ^ Beasley, Gillian. "DECLARATION OF RESULT OF POLL - Election of a Member of Parliament for Peterborough" (PDF). peterborough.gov.uk. Peterborough City Council. Retrieved 8 August 2019.
  27. ^ a b Syal, Rajeev; Walker, Peter (7 June 2019). "Peterborough byelection result: Labour scrapes past Brexit party to hold seat". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 7 June 2019.
  28. ^ "Peterborough by-election: Nigel Farage's five-star dinner ends with bitter taste as Brexit Party fails to win". Sky News. Retrieved 7 June 2019.
  29. ^ a b "Five electoral fraud allegations at Peterborough by-election being investigated by police". Peterborough Evening Telegraph. Retrieved 24 June 2019.
  30. ^ Tom Calver, Gabriel Pogrund, Ewan Somerville and (16 June 2019). "Vote-rigger's role casts doubt over Labour win in Peterborough". Retrieved 24 June 2019 – via www.thetimes.co.uk.
  31. ^ The Brexit Party (24 June 2019). "Our politics is broken. The abuse of the postal vote system is part of the problem. We are lodging a petition under the Representation of the People Act 1983 with regards to the Peterborough by-election to solve this problem once and for all". Twitter. Retrieved 24 June 2019.
  32. ^ "Peterborough by-election fraud inquiry: No 'offences' in three cases". BBC News. 18 June 2019. Retrieved 19 June 2019.
  33. ^ Lamy, Joel (15 July 2019). "Final electoral fraud investigation into Peterborough by-election ends as police find no offences committed". Peterborough Evening Telegraph. Retrieved 16 July 2019.
  34. ^ "Conservatives sweep through Cambridgeshire taking six out of seven seats". BBC News. 13 December 2019. Retrieved 19 December 2019.
  35. ^ "Peterborough Parliamentary constituency". BBC News. 13 December 2019. Retrieved 19 December 2019.
  36. ^ "Peterborough parliamentary constituency - Election 2017". BBC News. 8 May 2017. Retrieved 26 July 2018.