Former Labour MP Fiona Onasanya was removed from her position as MP on May 1 after she was convicted of perverting the course of justice. Ms Onasanya was found guilty of lying to police to avoid being prosecuted for speeding and a by-election was prompted in Peterborough to elect her replacement. The vote will take place on Thursday June 6 and it looks as if the Brexit Party could clinch its first seat in Parliament, ousting the Labour opposition.
In the European elections Peterborough voted overwhelmingly in favour of the Brexit party, securing 16,106 votes – more than twice that of runners up Labour.
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The Brexit Party’s success in the EU polls has made Mr Farage’s party the clear favourites to win the upcoming by-election with bookmakers Ladbrokes having them in front with odds of 1-5.
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Mike Greene, a local businessman who has switched support from the Conservatives, is the Brexit party’s candidate in the Peterborough vote, hoping to be the first party member to get to Westminster.
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Following the Brexit Party winning 29 seats in the European elections Mr Farage has claimed he could win the next general election if the Conservative leadership candidates fail to deliver Brexit by the end of October.
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He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “If we don’t leave on October 31, then we can expect to see the Brexit party’s success continue into the next general election.”
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Mr Farage’s prediction has since been bolstered by the latest general election voting poll, where his party topped the vote for the first time.
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The Opinium poll asked voters how they would cast their ballots at the next Westminster election, and 26 percent said they would back the Brexit Party.
Labour were second with 22 percent, with the Tories set to come in third with just 17 percent of the votes.
Despite Mr Farage’s vocal ambitions to win big at the next general election, an aide close to the outspoken Brexiteer understated their chances in the Peterborough by-election.
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They said: “We do not have the data that you need to get your vote out, but we’ll give it a shot.”
In contrast, Labour and the Conservatives have been canvassing since Ms Onasanya was found guilty in December in the expectation that a by-election would be held.
Recent national polling puts the combined vote share of the two biggest parties well below 50 per cent after voters expressed their frustration with the stalled Brexit process.
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Labour and the Conservatives lost votes across the country at last months European elections which saw the emergence of Nigel Farages Brexit party and a revival of the Lib Dems.
Three consecutive polls published last week have shown three different parties in first place – the Lib Dems, the Brexit party and Labour – the first time this has happened since 1986.
But the nature of the First Past the Post (FPP) voting system used at Westminster elections means Labour and the Conservatives could still cling on to hundreds of seats even if their support continues to plummet.
Reformers want the UK Parliament to follow the example of Scottish elections by allowing a degree of proportional representation into how the electoral system.
The Electoral Reform Society (ERS) said voters remained “hampered by a binary, out-dated voting system” with small changes in support likely to mean the difference between parties winning dozens or seats and none at the next election, given the state of electoral fragmentation.
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READ MORE: How Scottish Labour found itself in a death spiralOne recent poll put Labour and the Conservatives in third and fourth place with less than 40% of the vote. The ERS said there was a “clear, long-term trend” that politics was moving away from two main parties.
Peterborough holds a by-election on Thursday after disgraced former Labour MP Fiona Onasanya’s seat was recalled following her conviction over a speeding offence. The seat is traditionally a battleground between Labour and the Tories but Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party may be able to change all that. After the constituency backed the Brexit Party in last month’s EU elections, the bookies are backing another triumph for Mr Farage.
Commenting on the ERS research, Sir John Curtice, the countrys leading pollster, said: There is little doubt that Britains traditional two-party system is facing its biggest challenge yet in the wake of the Brexit impasse.
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“If that challenge persists it would seem inevitable that there will renewed debate about the merits of the first-past-the-post electoral system.
Mr Farage has already said if the UK does not exit the European Union on October 31 then he expects the Brexit Party to repeat its success in a general election.
Since Labour became the second largest party in terms of MPs at the 1922 general election, the lowest combined Conservative and Labour vote share seen in Great Britain in a general election is 67% in 2010.
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The ERS claim the results of the next General Election will be a “total lottery” and likely to be the most disproportionate in history given Westminsters first-past-the-post voting system.
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It argues it is time for Westminster to join Scotland, Wales and local elections in Northern Ireland and Ireland in introducing a fair, proportional voting system where seats in Parliament accurately match how people vote.
Might it risk losing Labour voters who voted Leave at the time of the referendum three years ago? If so, far fewer. Most Labour voters, even in Leave areas, voted Remain. Since the referendum, faced with a palpably right-wing project – a damaging, job destroying, rights-threatening, costly, Brexit fully owned by the Tories – many of them have had doubts and would no longer vote that way. Perhaps only a tenth of Labour voters still support Brexit, and most of them would not abandon Labour on that issue alone in a general election.