The Brexit Party may have lost the Peterborough by-election but Farage isn’t going away

Labour’s triumph can’t disguise the fact that Brexit – and its most prominent advocate – has brought chaos and conflict to British politics, says Sean O’Grady

Friday 07 June 2019 17:26 BST
Labour Party candidate Lisa Forbes won with a majority of 683 over the Brexit Party
Labour Party candidate Lisa Forbes won with a majority of 683 over the Brexit Party (Reuters)

The Brexit Party is on a roll. Plainly. The near miss in Peterborough doesn’t alter that. In fact, it confirms it. They came from nowhere to grab a quarter of the vote, and within 600 votes or so of a truly historic breakthrough. It’s true that the vote share is down on the European election level in the city of 38.1 per cent, but that is to be expected – people habitually vote in different ways for councils, the European parliament, and Westminster.

The central fact is that the Labour and Conservative shares of the vote collapsed – down by 17.2 and 25.5 percentage points respectively, compared to the 2017 general election. A Con-Lab marginal is now a BP-Lab marginal. This is entirely consistent with the recent European elections – which the Brexit Party actually won, and with current national polls; and is also entirely consistent with Nigel Farage, once again, having a dramatic effect on British politics.

The one thing the Brexit Party seems to have lacked locally in Peterborough is “data” – canvass returns and a database of the electorate. A new party cannot know where its supporters live and will always be less able to “get the vote out”. That is where Labour scored.

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