Peterborough candidates make early pitch for votes as Commons agrees December General Election

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The country is set to go to the polls on December 12 after a General Election was agreed by the House of Commons this evening (Tuesday).

MPs agreed by 438 votes to 20 to hold an election as the Brexit deadlock continues. The House of Lord’s will now vote on it tomorrow.

A polling station at the by-election in Peterborough earlier this year

A polling station at the by-election in Peterborough earlier this year

An amendment to hold the election three days earlier was rejected.

For residents living in the Peterborough constituency this will be the second time they’ve had the chance to elect an MP following victory for Labour’s Lisa Forbes in June’s by-election.

The by-election had been called after former MP Fiona Onasanya was recalled by her constituents following her three month jail sentence for lying over speeding points.

Ms Forbes triumphed by 683 votes from Mike Greene of the Brexit Party after a closely fought and high profile campaign for the constituency which voted overwhelmingly to Leave the EU at the 2016 referendum.

Both candidates are set to run again, with Paul Bristow (Conservative), Beki Sellick (Lib Dem), John Whitby (UKIP) and Joseph Wells (Green Party) also selected by their parties to contest the seat.

More candidates will be chosen in the coming days, although it is unlikely there will be 15 like at the by-election when turnout was 48.4 per cent.

Ms Forbes tweeted: “Just voted for an election. Bring it on. 9 years of vicious cuts have left Peterborough behind. I’ll campaigning on a transformative agenda that protects our NHS, schools and public services from more Tory austerity. Let’s get Johnson out by Christmas and transform our country.”

Mr Bristow said: “As well as choosing a new MP we are choosing a government and Prime Minister. We can’t allow Jeremy Corbyn anywhere near Downing Street. The by-election showed that a vote for the Brexit Party is a vote for Jeremy Corbyn’s candidate.

“Peterborough needs change and a new MP. Peterborough is my city and I have a plan to tackle crime, improve schools, crack down on fly-tipping and get Brexit done. Only a vote for the Conservatives and Boris Johnson as Prime Minister will get Brexit done.”

Mr Greene said: “We are excited about the prospect of a General Election. We would prefer that government had delivered Brexit but in the absence of that it would be good to give the electorate a chance to refresh Westminster with MPs that represent constituents and who will deliver on Brexit.

“Peterborough has been poorly served by Lisa Forbes - she has voted against the 61 per cent of Peterborough constituents that voted to Leave.

“Peterborough is a Leave constituency that deserves a Leave MP and I believe that I am the best person to serve the people of Peterborough.

“We are ready.”

Mr Whitby said: “For Peterborough it represents an opportunity for the people of the city to review what has happened since the election in June and make a decision for the future. Do we want more of the same, with an MP who does only what she is told by her party and who has continually voted against the wishes of 61 per cent of her constituents when it comes to Brexit?

“Or do we want a wannabee career politician who has tried to get elected across the country, or indeed, someone from a party who will try to overturn the democratic mandate of 2016?

“I’d strongly suggest that Peterborough has a good hard look and makes sure it returns a candidate who will both push for a strong deliverable Brexit which is fully in the best interests of both the country and this city, but also a candidate who isn’t in it just for the opportunity to be in Parliament, but to work for the city and its people.

Ms Sellick said: “As the city’s Liberal Democrat candidate, of course I welcome the opportunity for Peterborough to elect an MP who will truly put the interests of everyone here above party politics or personal gain.

“This election will give us all the chance to simply say ‘no, we don’t want this Brexit’. People tell me they want politicians who tell the truth, but ‘getting Brexit done’ is another false promise: taking the UK egg out of a 28-egg EU omelette is only the first step.

“We will then have at least 10 years of uncertainty - call it project fear if you like, but it’s true - we’ll need trade deals with every other country more than they need us. There will be a race to the bottom on everything - food safety, wages and health. Yes, Brexit hurts the EU, but it hurts Britain more - and will carry on hurting. Brexit has cost £76 billion so far - plus more hate crime, more isolation, more child poverty.

“Jo Swinson as PM would #StopBrexit and stop Brexit bleeding our country dry so we can focus on three things people in Peterborough really want.

“Lib Dems demand better for Britain: 1. We will start creating a fair society with properly funded NHS and social care, police and public services; 2. We will start building a better economy where jobs and working conditions are safe; and 3. We will stop climate change by working on a level playing field alongside our EU partners, holding each other to account.”

Ms Forbes has previously abstained on voting for an early election after Labour said it would not agree to it unless a no deal Brexit before polling day was ruled out, which happened earlier this week as an extension to Article 50 until the end of January was granted by the EU.

While Peterborough is expected to be one of the most closely contested constituencies in the country, the North West Cambridgeshire constituency, which includes large parts of Peterborough, is historically a safe Conservative seat.

Incumbent Shailesh Vara has held the seat since 2005 and last time won with 58.6 per cent of the vote.

Labour last week selected Peterborough city councillor Ed Murphy - who previously contested the Peterborough seat - to stand as its candidate.

The Brexit Party has chosen Liam Round to contest the seat, while the Green Party has selected Nicola Day.

In North East Cambridgeshire, Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay (Conservative) is also defending a large majority.

It is a similar story for Tory MPs Jonathan Djanogly (Huntingdon) and John Hayes (South Holland & The Deepings).

In Grantham and Stamford sitting MP Nick Boles has not decided whether to stand for re-election after quitting the Conservatives and sitting as an independent, while in Corby Conservative Tom Pursglove is defending a majority of less than 3,000.