2019 South Eastern European Elections: Huge wins for the Brexit Party

Credit: Evening Standard

The Conservatives have been decimated in the European parliamentary elections, as Nigel Farage’s six week old Brexit Party triumphed with an emphatic victory.

Mr Farage's party, who are unhappy with how negotiations to leave the EU have gone so far, took victory on Sunday night with 29 out of the UK’s 73 seats.

Labour and the Conservatives suffered badly, as voters split between the parties with clear plans for Brexit. Leavers haemorrhaged support to The Brexit Party, and remainers defected to parties advocating a people’s vote; such as the Greens, Change UK, the Liberal Democrats, and the nationalist parties (SNP and Plaid Cymru).

Labour won ten seats, the Conservatives just three. It was a good night for the third parties, as the Liberal Democrats came runners-up with 15 seats and the Green Party had their best set of results for 30 years, with 8 seats. The SNP got three representatives in Scotland, and Plaid Cymru and the DUP got one a piece.

Ten MEP’s were selected in the South East of England region to represent constituents in Brussels. The Brexit Party won four seats with 36.07% of the vote share. The Liberal Democrats won three seats with a quarter of the region’s vote, while the Conservatives, Labour and Greens have one MEP each.

The MEPs elected from the South East region were as followed: Nigel Farage, Alexandra Lesley Phillips, Robert Rowland and Belinda De Camborne Lucy for the Brexit Party; Catherine Bearder, Anthony Hook and Judith Bunting, Liberal Democrats; Alexandra Phillips, Green; Daniel Hannan, Conservative; John Howarth, Labour.

Turnout in the South East was 39.36% - a 4% increase from the 2014 vote.

The results showcase a remarkable feat for the Brexit Party, who topped the poll with a higher vote share than UKIP managed five years ago. Mr Farage’s old party, UKIP, have lost all of their MEPs with 1.85% of the vote share.

Mr Farage, 55, who has served as a Member of the European Parliament for two decades with the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) and the Brexit Party, said a "massive message" had been sent to the traditional parties.

"Never before in British politics has a new party launched just six weeks ago topped the polls in a national election."

"Labour and Conservative Party could learn a big lesson tonight but I don't suppose they actually will."

"If we don't leave on 31 October, the scores you've seen for the Brexit Party today will be repeated in a general election and we are getting ready for it."

Liberal Democrat MEP Catherine Bearder, however, said the total number of votes for remain-supporting parties outstripped those for the Brexit Party. stating: "Now it is absolutely vital all the remain groups come behind the number one party, the Liberal Democrats, to fight Brexit. It is not inevitable."

"Our place is in the European Union, leading the European Union and shaping the future."

Brexiteer and Conservative MEP for the South East Daniel Hannan – one of only three Tory MEPs elected – told the BBC that it was his party's "worst ever result". He uttered: "We voted to leave (the EU) and we haven't left - it's that simple."

In Canterbury, the Brexit Party came on top with 16,695 votes, with the Liberal Democrats and Greens coming second (11,674) and third (6,422) respectively. The Tories were pushed to fifth place in these elections (3,557), behind Labour (3,835). Turnout was the higest in Kent at 42%.

In Medway the Brexit Party got just over 30,000 votes, more than 22,000 more than the next successful party the Lib Dems.

Last month’s local elections saw the Conservatives lose ground in the council to Labour, the Lib Dems and the Greens, loosing eight seats in total including the seat vacated by its leader Simon Cook.

University of Kent Chancellor, Gavin Esler, failed to win a seat in Greater London for Change UK, made up of defected Labour and Tory MPs such as their temporary leader Heidi Allen. The newly formed party, who were originally called the Independent Group, recorded just 2.8% of the national popular vote and failed in every region to win a single representative.

May has not been a good month for the Conservatives. The governing party lost 75 councillors across the county in the local elections. They went on to lose 1,330 councillors in England, their worst result in local council elections since 1995 under John Major when they lost over 2,000.

The day before the EU election, Theresa May announced last week that she would be resigning as Prime Minister on June 7 because of her inability to pass her EU divorce bill through the Houses of Parliament.

Sir John Curtice of the University of Strathclyde said the results showed how polarised the country had become over Brexit.