Friday 7 June 2019 10:14 am

Peterborough by-election: Labour beats Brexit party to defend seat

Labour has retained a strongly-contested seat after withstanding a fierce challenge from the Brexit party in the Peterborough by-election.

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Labour’s union activist candidate, Lisa Forbes, won 31 per cent of the vote to beat the Brexit part’s Mike Greene, who came a narrow second with 29 per cent.

Forbes said the 683-vote gap showed people had “rejected the politics of division”.

“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,” she said.

But Brexit party founder Nigel Farage hailed the result as “something very significant”.

“We have come from nowhere, produced a massive result – we haven’t quite got over the line, but we are pretty buoyed by this,” he added.

The Tories slipped to third place with 21 per cent of the vote while the Liberal Democrats came in fourth with 12 per cent of the vote.

The Green party stood fifth on three per cent.

Former Lasbour MP Fiona Onasanya triggered the Peterborough by-election when Labour threw her out of the party last year.

AQ court found her guilty of lying over a speeding offence in December 2018.

Bookmakers had backed the Brexit party to win the seat. Peterborough voted to leave the EU by a majority of 61 per cent to 39 per cent in 2016’s EU referendum.

Labour’s Jeremy corbyn, former PM Gordon Brown and Tory leadership candidates Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt visited the city during the election.

Prime Minister Theresa May, who will officially step down as Conservative party leader later today, did not.

Speaking to Radio 4’s Today programme, Farage said the results indicated a “very, very unpredictable” future.

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If Brexit does not happen on 31 October, meanwhile, “the Brexit party will power on”, he added.