2019 Peterborough by-election

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2019 Peterborough by-election

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Peterborough constituency
Turnout48.43%
  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
  Official portrait of Paul Bristow MP crop 2.jpg
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%

Peterborough2007Constituency.svg
Boundary of Peterborough in Cambridgeshire.

MP before election

Fiona Onasanya
Independent

Elected MP

Lisa Forbes
Labour

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]

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]

Background[edit]

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]

Onasanya was elected as the Labour MP for Peterborough at the 2017 general election and later stated her wish to be the first black female Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.[5] In July 2017, her car was driven at 41 mph (66 km/h) through a 30 mph (48 km/h) zone in Thorney, Cambridgeshire. A Notice of Intended Prosecution was returned to the police in her name, claiming that a man named Aleks Antipow was the driver. However, it was later discovered that Antipow was in his native Russia at the time.[6] Around the same time, her brother Festus had also responded to two other notices with false names.[7] Both Fiona and Festus Onasanya were consequently charged with perverting the course of justice; Festus pleaded guilty while Fiona pleaded not guilty.[8]

Owing to the jury at the Old Bailey failing to reach a verdict, Judge Nicholas Hilliard QC ordered a retrial.[8] At the retrial, Onasanya was found guilty and compared herself afterwards to several biblical figures including Moses and Jesus who had been convicted by courts in their day; she declared her intention to appeal.[9] Onasanya received a three-month prison sentence.[10] The Attorney General reviewed the sentence after a complaint was received from the public that it was unduly lenient, and concluded that it was not.[11][12] Onasanya was released from prison on 26 February 2019, after serving four weeks.[13] Following the conviction for perverting the course of justice, Onasanya was expelled from the Labour Party in January 2019.[14][15] She remained in Parliament, where she sat as an independent, and continued to protest her innocence. Her appeal against conviction was rejected on 5 March 2019,[16] and later that day, the Speaker of the House of Commons John Bercow announced in Parliament that a recall petition would be put into place against her.[17]

Recall petition[edit]

Fiona Onasanya (right) leaving the Royal Courts of Justice after her appeal was rejected.

In 2019, a recall petition in her constituency was signed by 27.6% of the electorate, more than the 10% threshold required,[18] and became the first to successfully remove a Member of Parliament (MP).[19]

It was triggered after the constituency's MP Fiona Onasanya failed to secure permission to appeal against being found guilty of perverting the course of justice and being sentenced to a term of imprisonment. Onasanya misled police with regard to a speeding offence in 2017, was convicted in December 2018,[20] and in March 2019 lost an application for permission to appeal against her conviction and sentence.[21]

Onasanya was an independent politician, having been expelled from the Labour Party following the conviction. The petition opened on 19 March and ran until 5 pm on 1 May 2019. The recall petition was successful: 19,261 signatures were obtained from the 69,673 electors eligible to sign the petition, or 27.64%, exceeding the 10% required to vacate the seat. Therefore the seat was vacated and the 2019 Peterborough by-election was called to fill the vacancy.

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.[22]

Procedure and timetable[edit]

Under the Recall of MPs Act 2015, any MP who receives a prison sentence of a year or less is subject to a recall petition, though the procedure cannot begin until appeals have been unsuccessful.[23][24] Onasanya lost her request to appeal on 5 March 2019. The court officially informed the Speaker of the House of Commons who, later that day, took the necessary steps to initiate the process which included notifying the petition officer for the constituency.[17][25]

The petition officer for Peterborough opened the petition on 19 March, with ten designated signing places within the constituency for constituents to sign the petition.[26] The threshold for success was ten percent of eligible constituents (6,967 out of 69,673) signing within the six-week period (ending 1 May[note 1]) in order to recall Onasanya and call a by-election.[28][29] Registered parliamentary electors could sign the petition at their assigned polling place, or do so by post or by proxy.[27] The projected cost of the petition was approximately £500,000.[29]

No ongoing tally was reported by the petitions officer, thus it was not known that the required threshold had been reached until the end of the six-week period.[30] There was no opinion polling, as UK law prohibits forecasts of the outcome of recall petitions which are based on statements from, or surveys of, potential signatories.[31]

Result[edit]

19,261 signatures were obtained. This represented 27.64% of the 69,673 electors eligible to sign the petition, thus surpassing the 10% threshold, causing the seat to become vacant, and triggering the 2019 Peterborough by-election.[32][33] The Electoral Commission later disclosed that 28% of eligible voters had signed the petition, with the threshold of 10% being reached in the first two days.[34]

Though she did not stand, Onasanya was legally eligible to be a candidate in the by-election. The Labour Party had withdrawn support for her – the party encouraged voters to sign the petition and, along with several other parties, pre-selected a by-election candidate.[35][36][37]

2016 European Union referendum[edit]

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.[38]

Candidates and campaign[edit]

The list of 15 nominated candidates was announced on 9 May.[39][40] Anticipating the recall petition's success, several parties announced candidates before it had even opened.[41]

Although not disqualified from seeking to regain her seat, Onasanya did not fight the by-election.[42] Former Labour and Respect Party MP George Galloway announced his intention to stand on a pro-Brexit position[43][44] and sought the Brexit Party candidacy, but was not selected. Although Galloway had mooted standing as an independent,[45] he did not do so.[46]

The Liberal Democrat campaign focused on opposition to Brexit and calling for a second referendum.[44] Change UK, the Liberal Democrats, the Green Party and Renew were close to supporting a joint Remain candidate,[47] Femi Oluwole of Our Future Our Choice,[48] but they ultimately opted to stand their own candidates,[39] 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.[49] 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.[50][51]

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.[52]

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.[53]

When polls closed, the Brexit Party had been heavily favoured in bookmakers' odds to win, with Labour generally thought to be in second place.[54]

Results[edit]

2019 by-election: Peterborough[55][56]
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Labour Lisa Forbes 10,484 30.91 −17.16
Brexit Party Mike Greene 9,801 28.89 New
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 New
CPA Tom Rogers 162 0.49 New
English Democrat Stephen Goldspink 153 0.45 New
SDP Patrick O'Flynn 135 0.40 New
Monster Raving Loony Alan "Howling Laud" Hope 112 0.33 New
No description Andrew Moore 101 0.30 New
Common Good Dick Rodgers 60 0.18 New
Renew Peter Ward 45 0.13 New
UK EU Pierre Kirk 25 0.07 New
No description Bobby Smith 5 0.01 New
Majority 683 2.02 +0.70
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 aftermath[edit]

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".[57]

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".[57] Party leader Nigel Farage attended the count but left before the result was announced.[58]

After the Brexit Party questioned the validity of the result, five electoral fraud allegations were investigated.[59] 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.[60] Labour denied he had had any role in the campaign, although he did attend the count as a member of the public.[59] The Brexit Party announced on 24 June 2019 that they would be lodging a review petition under the Representation of the People Act 1983.[61] On 15 July, Cambridgeshire Constabulary announced the final conclusion of their investigations and determined that no offences had been committed.[62][63] In 2020, Brexit Party candidate Mike Greene was ordered to pay the Labour Party's legal costs after dropping a High Court challenge.[64]

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.[65][66]

Previous result[edit]

2017 general election: Peterborough[67]
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 N/A
Turnout 47,738 67.5 +2.6
Labour gain from Conservative Swing +2.7

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ The polling places were closed on Good Friday and Easter Monday,[27] hence the extra two days of being open.

References[edit]

  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. ^ "Convicted MP dreamed of being first black female prime minister". Irish Examiner. 19 December 2018. Archived from the original on 30 January 2019. Retrieved 30 January 2019.
  6. ^ Anna Savva (13 November 2018). "MP Fiona Onasanya claimed man in Russia was behind wheel during speeding offence". CambridgeshireLive. Archived from the original on 30 January 2019. Retrieved 30 January 2019.
  7. ^ "Sentencing remarks – Onasanya" (PDF). Ministry of Justice. Archived (PDF) from the original on 30 January 2019. Retrieved 30 January 2019. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  8. ^ a b Kirk, Tristan (26 November 2018). "Fiona Onasanya facing retrial over speeding case after claiming Russian was behind the wheel". Evening Standard. Archived from the original on 30 January 2019. Retrieved 30 January 2019.
  9. ^ Syal, Rajeev (21 January 2019). "Labour MP compares herself to Jesus after penalty points conviction". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 30 January 2019. Retrieved 30 January 2019.
  10. ^ Syal, Rajeev (29 January 2019). "Fiona Onasanya to try to stay on as MP despite jail sentence". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 30 January 2019. Retrieved 30 January 2019.
  11. ^ "Fiona Onasanya: Peterborough MP's jail term to be reviewed". BBC News. 31 January 2019. Archived from the original on 31 January 2019. Retrieved 1 February 2019.
  12. ^ "Fiona Onasanya: Speeding MP's jail term 'not unduly lenient'". BBC News. 25 February 2019. Archived from the original on 25 February 2019. Retrieved 26 February 2019.
  13. ^ "Fiona Onasanya: Speeding MP released from prison". BBC News. 26 February 2019. Archived from the original on 26 February 2019. Retrieved 26 February 2019.
  14. ^ 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.
  15. ^ Sabbagh, Dan (4 January 2019). "Labour confirms expulsion of convicted MP Fiona Onasanya". The Guardian. London.
  16. ^ "Monday 11 February 2019 Votes and Proceedings" (PDF). House of Commons. Archived (PDF) from the original on 13 February 2019. Retrieved 12 February 2019.
  17. ^ a b Syal, Rajeev (5 March 2019). "MP Fiona Onasanya loses appeal against conviction". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 6 March 2019. Retrieved 6 March 2019.
  18. ^ Syal, Rajeev (29 January 2019). "Sentencing of MP who lied to avoid speeding ticket could spark byelection". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 30 January 2019. Retrieved 30 January 2019.
  19. ^ "Fiona Onasanya: Speeding offence MP ousted under recall rules". BBC News. 1 May 2019. Archived from the original on 6 May 2019. Retrieved 13 May 2019.
  20. ^ "Fiona Onasanya: Peterborough MP jailed in speeding case". BBC News. Archived from the original on 29 January 2019. Retrieved 30 January 2019.
  21. ^ "Fiona Onasanya: Jailed MP loses appeal against conviction". BBC News. Archived from the original on 5 March 2019. Retrieved 5 March 2019.
  22. ^ Syal, Rajeev (1 May 2019). "Disgraced MP Fiona Onasanya loses seat after recall petition". The Guardian. Retrieved 1 May 2019.
  23. ^ "Representation of the People Act 1981: Section 1", legislation.gov.uk, The National Archives, 1981 c. 34 (s. 1)
  24. ^ "Recall of MPs Act 2015: Section 1", legislation.gov.uk, The National Archives, 2015 c. 25 (s. 1)
  25. ^ "Notification received from Speaker on recall petition". Peterborough City Council. Archived from the original on 8 March 2019. Retrieved 11 March 2019.
  26. ^ "MP Fiona Onasanya recall petition opens". BBC News. 19 March 2019. Archived from the original on 23 April 2019. Retrieved 23 April 2019.
  27. ^ a b "Public notice of petition to remove the MP for Peterborough Fiona Onasanya". Peterborough City Council. Archived from the original on 7 March 2019. Retrieved 11 March 2019.
  28. ^ "This is how Peterborough residents can remove Fiona Onasanya as MP under a recall petition". Peterborough Telegraph. 8 January 2019. Archived from the original on 30 January 2019. Retrieved 30 January 2019.
  29. ^ a b "Peterborough MP recall petition set to cost £500,000". ITV News. 8 March 2019. Archived from the original on 3 May 2019. Retrieved 11 March 2019.
  30. ^ "This is what Peterborough residents will sign in the recall petition to trigger a by-election after Fiona Onasanya loses her appeal". www.peterboroughtoday.co.uk. Archived from the original on 6 March 2019. Retrieved 12 March 2019.
  31. ^ "Editorial Guidelines". www.bbc.co.uk. Archived from the original on 31 March 2019. Retrieved 20 March 2019. There are automatic reporting restrictions in relation to recall petitions. They state that until the end of the last day of the signing period of the petition we must not publish / broadcast: Any statement relating to whether any person has signed the petition where that statement is (or might reasonably be taken to be) based on information given by that person; or Any forecast as to the result of the petition which is (or might reasonably be taken to be) based on information so given.
  32. ^ "By-Election Triggered As Peterborough Voters Back Bid To Remove Disgraced MP Fiona Onasanya". HuffPost UK. 1 May 2019. Retrieved 1 May 2019.
  33. ^ "Public notice of petition to remove the MP for Peterborough Fiona Onasanya". Peterborough City Council. 1 May 2019. Archived from the original on 3 May 2019. Retrieved 1 May 2019.
  34. ^ Lamy, Joel (10 October 2019). "Peterborough voters took just two days to oust former MP Fiona Onasanya, Electoral Commission reveals". Peterborough Telegraph. Retrieved 19 October 2019.
  35. ^ "Selection of next Peterborough Labour Party candidate will be more rigorous than Fiona Onasanya selection". www.peterboroughtoday.co.uk. Archived from the original on 6 March 2019. Retrieved 6 March 2019.
  36. ^ "Labour to choose next Peterborough parliamentary candidate from all-woman shortlist to replace Fiona Onasanya". www.peterboroughtoday.co.uk. 1 February 2019. Archived from the original on 6 March 2019. Retrieved 6 March 2019.
  37. ^ Rodgers, Sienna (21 February 2019). "Labour selects Lisa Forbes to replace Fiona Onasanya in Peterborough". LabourList. Archived from the original on 6 March 2019. Retrieved 6 March 2019.
  38. ^ Lynne, Freddie (27 May 2019). "This is how Peterborough voted in the European Elections". Cambridge News. Retrieved 4 June 2019.
  39. ^ a b "Statement of Persons Nominated" (PDF). Peterborough City Council. 9 May 2019.
  40. ^ "Peterborough by-election: Fifteen candidates to fight seat". BBC News. 9 May 2019. Retrieved 9 May 2019.
  41. ^ 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.
  42. ^ "Ousted MP Fiona Onasanya will not fight Peterborough by-election". BBC News. 3 May 2019. Retrieved 3 May 2019.
  43. ^ George Galloway [@georgegalloway] (1 May 2019). "I intend to stand in the forthcoming parliamentary by-election in Peterborough. More follows..." (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  44. ^ a b Murphy, Joe (2 May 2019). "Brexit candidates may split Peterborough vote after jailed MP ousted". Evening Standard.
  45. ^ 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".
  46. ^ 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.
  47. ^ Read, Jonathon (8 May 2019). "Anti-Brexit parties considering a Remain candidate for by-election". The New European. Retrieved 8 May 2019.
  48. ^ 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.
  49. ^ "Peterborough by-election contenders named". 9 May 2019. Retrieved 21 May 2019 – via www.bbc.co.uk.
  50. ^ Maguire, Patrick (9 May 2019). "What failure to agree a Remain candidate in Peterborough means for Change UK". New Statesman. Retrieved 21 May 2019.
  51. ^ 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.
  52. ^ Buchan, Lizzy (2 June 2019). "Labour urged to disown by-election candidate who endorsed antisemitic Facebook post". The Independent. Retrieved 3 June 2019.
  53. ^ Syal, Rajeev (5 June 2019). "Brexit party's MP candidate under fire for freehold profiteering". The Guardian. Retrieved 5 June 2019.
  54. ^ Woodcock, Andrew (5 June 2019). "Nigel Farage makes final drive to win Brexit Party's first MP". The Independent. Retrieved 7 June 2019.
  55. ^ "Live Peterborough by-election 2019 updates". Cambridgeshire Live. 7 June 2019. Retrieved 7 June 2019.
  56. ^ 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.
  57. ^ 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.
  58. ^ "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.
  59. ^ a b "Five electoral fraud allegations at Peterborough by-election being investigated by police". Peterborough Evening Telegraph. Retrieved 24 June 2019.
  60. ^ 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.
  61. ^ 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.
  62. ^ "Peterborough by-election fraud inquiry: No 'offences' in three cases". BBC News. 18 June 2019. Retrieved 19 June 2019.
  63. ^ 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.
  64. ^ Lamy, Joel (6 April 2020). "Peterborough Brexit Party candidate ordered to pay full legal costs to Labour after dropping election result challenge". Peterborough Telegraph. Retrieved 6 April 2020.
  65. ^ "Conservatives sweep through Cambridgeshire taking six out of seven seats". BBC News. 13 December 2019. Retrieved 19 December 2019.
  66. ^ "Peterborough Parliamentary constituency". BBC News. 13 December 2019. Retrieved 19 December 2019.
  67. ^ "Peterborough parliamentary constituency - Election 2017". BBC News. 8 May 2017. Retrieved 26 July 2018.

External links[edit]