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Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage at a Brexit Party rally in Peterborough. Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage at a Brexit Party rally in Peterborough ahead of the upcoming by-election, June 1, 2019 (Press Association photo by Danny Lawson via AP Images).

Why Britain’s Labour Party Shouldn’t Fear Brexit Firebrand Nigel Farage

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Just two weeks after the far-right Brexit Party emerged as one of the winners of the European Parliament elections, Nigel Farage’s new political outfit was presented with its first opportunity to win a British parliamentary seat. It was in a by-election in the constituency of Peterborough that appeared firmly slanted in its favor. Peterborough voted to leave the European Union in the 2016 referendum by a clear majority of nearly 61 percent. Its disgraced Labour MP, Fiona Onasanya, who was only elected in 2017 by a paper-thin margin of 607 votes, had been recalled by her own party after being sentenced to three months in prison for lying to a police officer following a speeding violation. So this month’s by-election was very much the Brexit Party’s to lose—and yet, somehow, lose it did.

In what has become a familiar routine for Farage-led parties, European election success has once again failed to carry over into national contests. Labour held onto the constituency on June 6 by a mere 683 votes. And although the party’s vote share plummeted by 17 points to a paltry 31 percent, it actually increased its majority by 76 votes. This in itself might not be a cause for celebration for Labour, but it does reveal a deeper truth about British politics that should give the party some reason to rejoice. ...

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