A message to Peterborough by-election candidates - treat us as your Brexit playthings at your peril

Thornton on Thursday column with Peterborough Telegraph's deputy editor Nigel Thornton - peterboroughtoday.co.uk
Thornton on Thursday column with Peterborough Telegraph's deputy editor Nigel Thornton - peterboroughtoday.co.uk
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I have a warning for the candidates queueing up to replace disgraced city MP Fiona Onasanya: treat us, the voters of Peterborough, as your Brexit playthings at your peril.

Now I realise that, as warnings go, it’s not in Kray twins’ territory, but I hope it’s heeded as I fear the by-election is already shaping up like a reality TV show – Get Me In Here, I’m A Politician... or maybe Loathe Island.

Some might think Peterborough is already a jungle but the last thing we want is it to become a zoo with we, the residents, cast as the dumb captive animals.

The major parties already see it as a key test of political opinion (Brexit) and the minor parties see it as an opportunity to breathe the oxygen of publicity.

The big beasts of politics will be beating a path to Peterborough – Jeremy Corbyn and Vince Cable have already been, Nigel Farage has held a rally, expect many more to follow. And to stir the pot controversial George Galloway initially said he would stand too. We’re only a Rees-Mogg short of a full house!

The Monster Raving Loony Party has declared its intention to field a candidate – although it must be worried the raving loony vote is already split.

My friends in the national media will also be frequent visitors to the city – no doubt delighted that Peterborough is just a 50-minute train ride from the capital. But for the guidance of those who plan to sum up the city and its residents with a few elegantly turned phrases, we are neither numpties nor racists. I hope that helps.

Brexit, of course, will be an issue – and so it should be – but education, the NHS, law and order, housing are also vital topics – and ones that seem to be neglected by the current ruling class.

But pundits and politicians alike should be wary of what the result tells them.

Remember Peterborough voted overwhelmingly for Brexit yet a few months later the city not only bucked a swing to the Tories but also kicked out an arch-Brexiteer for a Remainer Labour candidate. Now that didn’t go well, to say the least, but it’s a warning to all the wannabes not to take liberties with the voters of this city.