Peterborough voters prepare for landmark by-election

Vote triggered after former Labour MP Fiona Onasanya was jailed for lying about a speeding offence.

    Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage and Mike Greene, the Brexit Party candidate who looks likely to win Thursday's Peterborough by-election [Simon Dawson/Reuters]
    Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage and Mike Greene, the Brexit Party candidate who looks likely to win Thursday's Peterborough by-election [Simon Dawson/Reuters]

    Business tycoon Mike Greene could become the Brexit Party's first MP in a by-election in the British town of Peterborough on Thursday.

    The 54-year-old had been a supporter of the Conservative Party until March 29, when Prime Minister Theresa May postponed Brexit by six months, he told the Huffington Post.

    The millionaire then had the opportunity to stand for the Brexit Party - a seven-week-old political group which takes pride in having no published manifesto beyond a hearty enthusiasm for Britain's swift withdrawal from the European Union.

    The by-election was triggered after former Labour MP Fiona Onasanya was jailed for lying about whether she was driving when her car was photographed by a speed camera.

    In the first use of a "recall petition" since their introduction in 2015, 27 percent of her constituents demanded she be removed from office - far exceeding the 10 percent threshold required.

    Onasanya had held the seat since 2017, when she defeated the incumbent Conservative MP, Stewart Jackson, by just 607 votes.

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    In the 2016 Brexit referendum, more than 62 percent of voters in the constituency voted to leave the European Union. In last week's European Parliament elections, the Brexit Party received most votes of any party in Peterborough, with 38 percent of votes cast.

    "Latest betting gives The Brexit Party an 82 percent chance of winning," British bookmakers Ladbrokes tweeted on Wednesday afternoon.

    Greene led a takeover bid for 140 convenience stores in 2015, and was financially backed by Greybull Capital - the finance firm which owned British Steel until its collapse last month. The shops were rebranded, but crashed into administration a year later at the cost of more than 1,600 workers' jobs.

    Also standing for election in Peterborough are Lisa Forbes, the Labour Party candidate who was forced to apologise after "liking" a Facebook post saying Prime Minister Theresa May was being controlled by "Zionist slave masters", and Conservative candidate Paul Bristow, a former local councillor in West London and a previous parliamentary candidate in the northern England town of Middlesbrough.

    They are joined on the polling slip by Beki Sellick, the Liberal Democrat who received 3.3 percent of the vote after fighting for the seat in the 2017 election, and Joseph Wells of the Green Party.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and news agencies