Tuesday 25 June 2019

Farage's Brexit Party the big winner as Tories and Labour vote collapses

Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage speaks to the media outside the counting centre for the European Parliamentary election in Southampton, England. Photo: REUTERS/Hannah McKay
Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage speaks to the media outside the counting centre for the European Parliamentary election in Southampton, England. Photo: REUTERS/Hannah McKay

William James

Nigel Farage's Brexit Party was poised to storm to victory in European elections, riding a wave of anger at the failure of British Prime Minister Theresa May to take Britain out of the European Union.

Early results show the Conservatives and the Labour Party did badly, while smaller pro-EU parties did well. The Liberal Democrats were in second place, according to a BBC projection.

Nearly three years after the UK voted by 52pc to 48pc to leave the EU, its politicians are still arguing over how, when or even whether the country will leave the club it joined in 1973.

BBC projections put Mrs May's Conservatives on around 10 to 12pc, down from 23pc in 2014, likely to be one of the party's worst results in a nationwide election ever.

The Brexit Party was in first place, and was likely to do better than the UK Independence Party did in 2014, according to BBC projections. "It looks like it's going to be a big win for the Brexit Party," Mr Farage said.

Mr Farage, who as Ukip leader convinced Mrs May's predecessor, David Cameron, to call the Brexit referendum and then helped lead the campaign to leave the EU, has said that if Brexit is not implemented then Britain will be shown not to be a democracy.

In an early indication of the Brexit Party surge, in the first declared result Labour lost a seat in the North East region of England.

The Brexit Party picked up two seats and 38.7pc of the vote, double Labour's vote share which gave it one seat - in 2014 Labour won two seats, with Ukip on one.

Prominent Tory Brexiteer Daniel Hannan acknowledged he faced losing his MEP seat in South East England as the party faced a "total wipeout".

Deputy Labour leader Tom Watson said the party must "find some backbone" and fully commit to a second referendum on Brexit to have any chance of winning the next general election.

Liberal Democrat sources said the party expected to win three MEPs in London, having been wiped out in the capital in 2014.

Seventy-three MEPs will be elected to represent the UK - three from Northern Ireland, where turnout was down to 45.1pc from 51pc in 2014.

The DUP and Sinn Féin candidates, Diane Dodds and Martina Anderson, are expected to hold their seats, with a three-way fight between the SDLP, UUP and Alliance for the third, which had been held by the retiring Ulster Unionist Jim Nicholson.

In the 2014 EU Parliament election, what was then Mr Farage's UK Independence Party won with 26.8pc, followed by Labour on 24.7pc and the Conservatives on 23.3pc. The Greens won 7.7pc in 2014 and the Liberal Democrats 6.7pc. Turnout was 35.6pc.

Irish Independent

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