15 candidates standing in Peterborough election
9 May 2019, 19:44 | Updated: 9 May 2019, 19:50
Attempts by pro-Remain parties to get behind a single candidate in the Peterborough by-election have ended in failure.
The Liberal Democrats, Change UK, the Greens and the centrist Renew Party had all agreed to support a pro-Remain independent candidate in the poll on June 6.
But the putative candidate was said to have pulled out at the eleventh hour amid allegations he came under pressure from senior Labour figures - including supporters of the People's Vote campaign.
Labour dismissed the claims as "bizarre" accusing the breakaway Change UK party of trying to cover up for its own incompetence.
The Lib Dems and the Greens have both now said they will be fielding their own candidates.
Change UK indicated it would be supporting the Renew candidate after the party - which has no MPs - said last month it would be backing Change UK candidates in the European elections.
Change UK MP Gavin Shuker said the setback came after the four parties had been working hard on a joint approach to the by-election triggered by the recall petition for the former Labour MP Fiona Onasanaya.
"We all agreed to stand down any candidates we might field in favour of a genuinely independent, pro-People's Vote and pro-Remain candidate who had expressed an interest and intention to stand," he said.
"However, senior Labour figures, including senior figures campaigning for a People's Vote, made it clear that they would strenuously disrupt the campaign and obstruct an independent candidate, driven by fears that it would harm their party in Peterborough."
A Change UK spokesman said: "Our close relationship with Renew has seen a number of their candidates run on our EU election slates and we wish them well in the Peterborough by-election."
Renew Party deputy leader James Clarke said the candidate the parties had agreed to support was a "very well-respected figure in the Remain community".
He said he was "extremely disappointed" that people in the Labour Party had resorted to such "underhand" methods to prevent him standing.
"At the eleventh hour, that candidate was put under extreme pressure through what we feel were dishonest and unscrupulous tactics from figures in the Labour Party," he said.
But a Labour source dismissed the claims, saying: "This is a bizarre and transparent attempt by Change UK to justify their own incompetence. Clearly they don't like by-elections."
In a statement, the Lib Dems confirmed that the effort to get behind a single candidate had failed.
"As the strongest Remain party, the Liberal Democrats will be fielding a candidate ready to represent Peterborough," it said.
The Greens said they would be standing a candidate who is pro-Remain and "who is serious about tacking climate chaos".
THE CANDIDATES & PARTIES
- Labour: Lisa Forbes. A Unite trade unionist who has previously talked about her struggle to afford heating bills, she stood for the seat in 2015 but lost to Tory MP Stewart Jackson, before he lost to Ms Onasanya in 2017
- Conservatives: Paul Bristow. He has criticised Ms Onasanya for voting for another EU referendum and said he will "ensure Brexit is a success for Peterborough"
- Liberal Democrats: Beki Sellick. She also stood for the seat in 2017, and is pledging to campaign for a People's Vote with an option to remain in the EU
- Greens: Joseph Wells. A new candidate in a seat the party also contested in 2017, Mr Wells also supports a People's Vote
- Monster Raving Loony: Alan "Howling Laud" Hope. Mr Hope is the party leader and has yet to be successful in his bid to become an MP, although he has been elected several times, including as mayor of Ashburton
- SDP: Patrick O'Flynn. He was elected as an MEP for Ukip in 2014 but defected to the Social Democratic Party in November 2018
- Ukip: John Whitby. A councillor on Peterborough City Council, he wants to leave the EU "now" and "restore British values"
- Brexit Party: Mike Greene. The businessman appeared on Channel 4's The Secret Millionaire in 2011. He says he wants to use his business experience to "make things happen"
- English Democrats: Stephen Goldspink. The former Peterborough city councillor also ran in the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough mayoral elections in 2017. He has described himself as an admirer of Donald Trump
- UK European Union Party: Pierre Kirk. The leader of the new political challenger group. He has said he aims to stop Brexit and stands for the "gentler side of politics"
- Common Good: Remain In The EU: Dick Rodgers. He describes himself as a "Euro keenie" with a "healing vision for our nation"
- Christian Peoples Alliance: Tom Rogers. The education manager said the country needs "bold direction". His party supports leaving the EU immediately
- Renew: Peter Ward. A barrister who specialises in anti-discrimination law. His party has said the interests of the UK "are better served by being part of the EU than by leaving it"
- Independent: Andrew Moore
- Independent: Bobby Smith