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Protests in England as BNP wins two seats in Europe

Hundreds of people took to the streets in England last night to protest after two British National Party members were elected to the European Parliament.

Simultaneous protests took place in Manchester, Liverpool, Sheffield, Preston and York in the wake of the far-right party's propulsion up the political ladder.

BNP leader Nick Griffin picked up the seat in the North West of England region and Andrew Brons won a seat in the Yorkshire and Humber region.

Speakers at the Manchester rally mocked the fact that Mr Griffin required a police escort to enter the election count in the Town Hall on Sunday night.

The crowd of around 400 people chanted "Nick Griffin -- no way" and "black and white -- here to stay" in Manchester.

Student Adil Ahmed (17) said it was "laughable" that the BNP had won two MEP seats.

His friend Daniel Comerford (18) branded the party as "deluded" and wondered aloud whether his Irish roots would see him repatriated if the party ever won a general election.

Amma Iqbal (25), who came to Manchester from Pakistan to study neuroscience, said: "I'm really surprised as people are really nice here.

"Them choosing the racist party is quite surprising. In England you can live your life, everyone's nice here."

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Regret

The Bishop of Blackburn, Nicholas Reade, said yesterday that he believed people would come to regret electing the BNP leader to the European Parliament.

The bishop, who openly opposed the party before the election, said: "This is a bitter and bizarre day for our region. It is also a day I believe many will live to regret.

"All people of good faith will be appalled at the election of an extremist candidate to supposedly represent the north-west of England in Europe."

The protests came on a day that saw Britain's Labour Party suffer one of the worst defeats in its history in the European elections as nearly 1.5 million of its previous backers refused to turn out for Gordon Brown's party.

Third overall behind the Tories and the UK Independence Party, Labour was defeated in many of its traditional heartlands, and beaten into fourth and even fifth place in many parts of the country.

Labour took 15.7pc of the votes cast, down almost 7pc on there previous record low in the 2004 European election.

Turnout was expected to be around 34pc, four points down on 2004. Detailed analysis of the figures suggests that the majority of previous voters who stayed at home this time were Labour supporters.

Labour even came second in Wales behind the Conservatives -- the first time the Tories had topped a national poll in Wales, and the first time Labour has failed to do so since 1918.

They also finished second in Scotland, soundly beaten by the Scottish National Party -- and by a far larger margin than in the 2007 Scottish elections. The SNP secured 29.1pc of Scottish votes, with Labour on 20.8pc.

The only part of the UK where Labour came top was the North East of England. Even there its 25pc share of the vote was down 9.1pc from 2004.

Harriet Harman, Labour's deputy leader, said she was "dismayed" by voters' rejection of the party. She put the results down to public anger at the MPs' expenses scandal.

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