Lib Dems, Greens and Change UK plot Remain alliance for Peterborough by-election

Poll held to replace disgraced ex-Labour MP Fiona Onasanya

Lizzy Buchan
Political Correspondent
Thursday 09 May 2019 09:58
The Independent hands in Final Say petition to Downing Street

Pro-EU parties are in talks over forming a Remain alliance to support an independent candidate in the upcoming Peterborough by-election.

Voters will go to the polls in the Cambridgeshire city in June to replace former Labour MP Fiona Onasanya, who lost her seat after being jailed for perverting the course of justice.

The Liberal Democrats, the Greens and newly-formed party Change UK were "holding conversations about supporting a candidate" last night, a source close to the talks confirmed.

The seat has traditionally been fought over by Labour and the Tories, with Ms Onasanya seizing it from Tory Brexiteer Stewart Jackson in 2017 by some 600 votes.

However Nigel Farage's new Brexit Party has sought to capitalise on the strong Leave vote in the area, announcing it will field Mike Greene, a former contestant on Channel 4's Secret Millionaire, as a candidate.

Change UK MP Anna Soubry set hares running with a tweet, since deleted, which said: “Happy to confirm that this was initiated by Change UK.

"In these extraordinary political times it’s right to get behind a People's Vote Remain Independent candidate.

"We are again putting country before party.”

But it is understood that talks are still ongoing over whether the pro-EU parties could support a single candidate, rather than splitting the Remain vote in what it sure to be an closely-fought election.

Time is running out as candidates for the June 6 by-election have to be declared by 4pm on Thursday.

Candidates announced so far include Lisa Forbes for Labour, Paul Bristow for the Conservatives, Beki Sellick for the Lib Dems, Joseph Wells for the Greens, John Whitby for Ukip, Patrick O'Flynn for the SDP and Alan 'Howling Laud' Hope for the Monster Raving Loony Party.

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The Conservatives lost Peterborough City Council to no overall control in last week's local elections after three years in charge of the consistently marginal authority.

Labour remain the second largest group on the council with 17 seats, followed by the Lib Dems with nine.

Ms Onasanya has said she will not stand in the upcoming election. She lost her seat when a recall petition found 10 per cent of her constituents wanted her to step down.

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