Tories warn party ‘must deliver Brexit’ or face Jeremy Corbyn in No 10
Tories in the race for Number 10 were falling over themselves with promises to see through with on the results of the 2016 referendum in light of the party’s latest disappointment at the polls. They also said if the party failed to lead the UK out of the EU, it act as a springboard for Jeremy Corbyn to get into Downing Street. This week’s by-election in Peterborough saw the Tories fall back to third place in the constituency which voted overwhelmingly for Brexit.
In what was traditionally a Conservative-Labour seat, Labour’s Lisa Forbes won with 10,484 votes to the Brexit Party’s 9,801, while Theresa May’s party trailed behind on 7,342 votes - a blow to her in her final days as leader. Dominic Raab, who resigned as Brexit secretary last year over Mrs May’s deal, said the result “shows yet again that we must get on and deliver Brexit by the end of October”.He added: “Failure to do so would not only break our promise to voters, it risks delivering Jeremy Corbyn by the backdoor.” Environment secretary Michael Gove, seen as a moderate candidate when it comes to Brexit, called for unity in the divided party.
Mr Gove this week said the October 31 Brexit deadline is “arbitrary” and refused to rule out a further delay. He said: “Results like last night’s show clearly that the Conservatives must honour the referendum result and deliver Brexit before risking a General Election.“We’ve got to come back together as a Party and work together to get Brexit done - otherwise we will lose to Labour and the Brexit Party and put Corbyn in Downing Street.” The by-election was called after Peterborough’s previous MP Fiona Onasanya was forced out.
The former Labour political was jailed for lying about a speeding offence. Nigel Farage had hoped Mike Green would become the Brexit Party’s first MP after the group’s victory at the European elections in May, which saw them win 29 seats just weeks after they launched.Health secretary Matt Hancock said the defeat showed the Tories should be more concerned about Labour, not the Brexit Party. He said: “The Peterborough by-election shows our real opponent is Jeremy Corbyn.
“We need to deliver Brexit then turn the page with a fresh face & concentrate on all the other things that matter to people.”Boris Johnson, the bookies’ favourite to inherit the Tory crown, also used the defeat to forward his campaign. The former foreign secretary offered his “commiserations” to Tory candidate Paul Bristow and said: “Conservatives must deliver Brexit by October 31 or we risk Brexit Party votes delivering Corbyn to No 10.”Echoing his call, home secretary Sajid Javid said it “remains clear that we must deliver Brexit”.A new prime minister is expected to be in place by the end of July, before MPs take their summer holidays.