The EU election results have started to trickle in and so far it’s bad news for both of the main parties. Labour and the Tories are draining support with the pro-EU Liberal Democrats making significant gains (party sources are jubilant and expect at least ten seats overall). However, the big winner looks set to be the Brexit Party.
Ahead of the vote, Nigel Farage’s new outfit was predicted to win the largest vote share and currently looks on course to do so. This evening, polling guru John Curtice confirmed that view – forecasting the Brexit party to come first and the Lib Dems second. The Brexit party has come first in thirteen of the first areas to declare – in the Midlands. The party has also had an impressive showing in the East of England where they have had three MEPs elected – including Farage allies Richard Tice and Michael Heaver. In Scotland, the Brexit party are on course to come in second after the SNP. Even in areas where the Brexit Party isn’t expected to do particularly well they are defying expectations – amassing more votes than Labour in the heavily Remain area of Cambridge:
Totals for Cambridge in the European elections, 23 May:
Brexit Party. 5064
Change UK 1323
Conservative & Unionist 1499
English Democrats. 83
Green Party 9408
Labour Party. 4551
Liberal Democrats 17328
CSORDAS Attila 68
Total votes. 39,930
— Cambridge City Council (@camcitco) May 26, 2019
The results will keep rolling in until the early hours but the trend is clear – the Brexit party is taking votes from the Tories, Ukip and in some areas Labour. So, what will it mean for the current political landscape? Ukip won 24 seats in the last European elections on 26 per cent of vote. They then went on to only win one seat in the following general election – in which Cameron promised a second referendum if elected. What’s different this time, however, is that the driving force behind the Brexit Party’s success – the government’s failure to deliver Brexit – shows no sign of abating. Big wins for the Brexit party will shape the debate for the upcoming Tory leadership contest – with candidates under pressure to explain how they plan to respond to the threat of Farage. That pressure will likely only increase the chance of a candidate willing to push for no deal winning the top job.