Peterborough’s marginal seat is usually a tight contest between the Conservatives and Labour – but this year could be a different story. Labour’s Fiona Onasanya wrested control of the seat from the Conservatives two years ago but she was ousted by constituents this year after being jailed for lying about a speeding offence. Now, the pro-Brexit area is poised to vote again in a crunch vote that could usher in Britain’s first Brexit Party MP. But will businessman Mike Greene be declared the winner as the issue of leaving the EU continues to dominate politics? And what would a Brexit Party win mean for the Conservatives and Labour?
Last month, the Brexit Party saw a resounding success in the European elections, securing 29 MEPs – the largest shares of seats of any British party in the European Parliament.
Bookmakers believe Nigel Farage’s party will win again on Thursday in a by-election which could be more seismic than in the 2015 General Election when UKIP gained its first elected MP in Clacton-On-Sea.
Dr Adrian Pabst, Head of School of Politics and International Relations at the University of Kent, told Express.co.uk. “This is different because the two parties are weaker than they have been for 50 years.
“They are haemorrhaging voters so this could be the start of a party realignment.”
The Conservatives already have to rely on the support of the DUP in a Parliament coalition.
However, Labour and the Conservatives both lost votes to the Liberal Democrats, the Green Party and the SNP in addition to the Brexit Party in the EU elections 2019.
Dr Pabst said: “We have got to a point where the parties are much more favourable to realignment than they have been for some time.
“No party is going to replace either of the two big ones but tying them into minority parties for some time is a possibility.”
Right now Mr Corbyn has lost his advantage from 2017 when the left-winger silenced critics by securing his party with 262 seats in the Commons, its highest vote share since 2001.
But the bullish leader has lost liberal support over his Brexit stumbling and accusations of anti-Semitism, making the Peterborough by-election a tipping point.
Dr Pabst said of Mr Corbyn: “He won’t survive for very long.”
“They are really in dire straits. They are not holding onto their core voters and are in an even trickier position than Labour, this could be catastrophic for them.”
One of the major issues for the Conservatives will be how to position the party moving forward after they elect a new leader to replace the outgoing Theresa May as Mr Farage applies the pressure.
But trying to unite the Tories with the single-minded Brexit Party would pose a “big risk” and potentially alienate many of its core voters, Dr Pabst said.
He added Boris Johnson’s key advantage of being an Arch Brexiteer does not necessarily guarantee he would win a general election even if made Tory leader.
Dr Pabst said: “Michael Gove might change this. Longer-term the party needs to be able to build more of a position in the country, to tackle the economy.
“So many of the candidates are defined by whether they are Leave or Remain, that will define them.
“Can they develop policies that will see them carry the Brexiteers and the Remainers, while at the same time looking to the Liberal Democrats?”
On the race for Peterborough, he added: “Any big election is not only about one issue and there will be local issues around housing, jobs, transport and health but Brexit is the prism and it seems that the main parties have no answers to these questions.”