OK, What happened to Brexit at Peterborough?

Graham Charles Lear
4 min readJun 9, 2019


Reflections on the Brexit Party’s success and concerns over the question of voter fraud

What really happened at the Peterborough by-election on Thursday 06 June 2019? Let's look at the results and look at some of the issues.

How did the results compare with 2017?

I have analysed the data from Peterborough City Council, comparing the by-election on Thursday with the General Election result two years previous.

Turnout dropped to 33,920–48.4% compared to 66.95%

Labour vote share dropped by 17% — just 10,484 votes compared to 22,950

Conservative vote share dropped by 25% — just 7,243 votes compared to 22,343

A two-horse race became a three-horse race in a traditionally bi-polar event

Most significantly the Brexit Party came from nowhere to win a close second place.

Naturally, there is the standard caveat: voting in a by-election always differs from that in a General Election, so it is dangerous to draw conclusions. In addition, the Conservative Party is in turmoil because of its leader standing down and the choice of a new leader being uncertain. These things said, the change, in this case, is so stark that it is impossible not to comment on it.

The question of voter fraud

No political party which has just lost an election likes to appear like a bad loser. Unsurprisingly none of us have heard nothing from the Brexit Party about the issue of voter fraud in Peterborough. In a sense, this could come across in the same way as the Remoaners who have cried foul and refused to accept the result of the EU Referendum.

I will just raise a few points about electoral fraud, on behalf of the ordinary voters of Peterborough.

Concerns about vote-rigging in Peterborough were so widespread over the last 15 years that the city was singled out as one of eight areas in England selected for a pilot scheme to combat electoral fraud. As the City Council wrote:

“Officers will hand deliver a percentage of postal voting packs and speak face to face with voters to stress the importance of completing the vote themselves. All proxy voters will be required to produce photographic ID at polling stations, before being able to vote on another’s behalf.”

It seems that the proposal for voter ID to be produced for all voters at polling stations was canceled by the city authorities. When it comes to postal voting, the Cabinet Office’s 2018 report into voter fraud admitted that in Peterborough

“only a minority agree that there are sufficient safeguards in place to prevent electoral fraud through postal voting (36%). This is reflected by an appetite for stronger identity checks for postal voting to ensure electoral fraud is prevented, with over half agreeing with this sentiment (63%).”

In recent years three local politicians, including the City’s mayor, received jail terms for committing electoral fraud. Many complaints have subsequently been received about the activities of a section of the community, including voter intimidation, vote-buying from Eastern Europeans, and widespread postal voting fraud. I have read first-hand accounts and they make for deeply troubling reading.

Firstly, there is absolutely no doubt that the Brexit Party secured an astonishing result in this by-election. Neither Labour nor the Conservatives are safe, even if the BP’s vote share falls in a general election. Indeed, if the Conservative Party fails to select a committed and unequivocally pro-Brexit leader, then the BP’s vote share might not fall in a general election as far as has been suggested by some.

Secondly, from all that I have researched about voting ‘irregularities’ in Peterborough, Labour should not be complacent. In a general election, not all constituencies will see the appalling tactics employed on behalf of Labour as are alleged in Peterborough. Whilst at the moment I can’t prove anything, it is my opinion that Labour would probably have lost without these. It should be remembered that they only won by 683 votes.

Thirdly, on the question of an honest and transparent electoral system in this country, I would ban postal voting, except for those who genuinely can’t leave the house for medical reasons, and except for armed forces on assignment overseas. We would also introduce voter ID for all votes at polling stations.

Finally, I would restrict voting rights to British citizens, and to other nationals who have been legally resident for at least ten years.

[Sources Peterborough City Council | Electoral Commission | Lord Pickles report on electoral fraud 2016 | The Cabinet Office ]



Graham Charles Lear

What is life without a little controversy in it? Quite boring and sterile would be my answer.