Parties ramp up campaigning in Peterborough ahead of anticipated by-election as UKIP announces candidate

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The main political parties have stepped up campaigning in Peterborough over the weekend ahead of an anticipated by-election.

Prospective Parliamentary candidates have been hitting the streets hard with MP Fiona Onasanya at risk of losing her seat following her conviction for perverting the course of justice.

UKIP has also today announced that its sole Peterborough city councillor John Whitby will be its candidate at the next election.

Cllr Whitby unsuccessfully contested the North West Cambridgeshire seat in the 2017 General Election.

He said: "I was honoured to be endorsed by a unanimous vote of the UKIP National Executive as the candidate for a future by-election in Peterborough and look forward to a positive campaign to replace the incumbent MP following her conviction at the Old Bailey."

Conservative candidate Paul Bristow was out supporting Khazar Suleman who is the party’s candidate in Central ward at May’s Peterborough City Council elections.

The Conservatives campaigning in Central ward

The Conservatives campaigning in Central ward

He said: “Fiona is no longer fit to be our MP so we are taking my vision for our city across Peterborough.

“I am proud of Peterborough and have a plan to make it even better place to live and work.

“I am ready to step up and be the MP we deserve.”

Ms Onasanya was found guilty of perverting the course of justice following a re-trial at the Old Bailey last month.

Labour campaigning in Bretton

Labour campaigning in Bretton

The jury found the MP had been lying about who was the driver of her Nissan Micra which was caught speeding in Thorney in July 2017.

Since then she has been expelled by the Labour Party and is currently sitting in the House of Commons as an independent MP.

Depending on her sentence which is expected later this month she could soon be forced out of her seat, prompting a by-election.

A Labour candidate in Peterborough has yet to be selected, but the party has been busy campaigning over the weekend after calling for Ms Onasanya to quit as an MP.

Beki Sellick

Beki Sellick

A spokesperson said: "Peterborough Labour had dozens of activists out across Peterborough this weekend. We spoke to voters and listened to their concerns in Bretton, Ravensthorpe, East ward and Dogsthorpe. We heard a huge amount about the Tory government and Tory council’s failings, and how Peterborough needs a Labour government to end this Tory neglect."

Liberal Democrat candidate Beki Sellick said residents she had spoken to this weekend had called for a second referendum - or 'People's Vote' - on leaving the EU.

She said: “People in Peterborough have been telling me today how worried they are about Brexit and how uncertain our future is. They don’t want Theresa May’s deal that will make them worse off.

“They can’t trust Labour, especially not in Peterborough. They support the People’s Vote as we do in the Liberal Democrats.”

Peterborough's sole Green Party city councillor Julie Howell said the party will be selecting its Parliamentary and council candidates soon.

Ms Onasanya will be sentenced alongside her brother Festus who pleaded guilty to three counts of perverting the course of justice, including in relation to his sister’s case.

Cllr John Whitby and UKIP leader Gerard Batten

Cllr John Whitby and UKIP leader Gerard Batten

The date for their sentencing has yet to be decided the Old Bailey said on Friday.

If Ms Onasanya is sentenced to a year or more in prison (including if it is a suspended sentence) then she will lose her seat.

Any custodial or suspended sentence of less than a year which is not appealed would automatically trigger a recall petition.

If 10 per cent of her constituents signed it within six weeks, Ms Onasanya would lose her seat and a by-election would be triggered, which she could stand in.

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