Farage's Brexit Party wins big in UK's EU parliament elections

Farage's Brexit Party wins big in UK's EU parliament elections
British voters punished the UK's two leading parties in elections for the European Parliament, handing huge gains to pro-Brexit and pro-EU factions.
3 min read
Nigel Farage [C] led the newly-formed Brexit Party to huge gains [AFP]
Veteran euroskeptic Nigel Farage said the UK should prepare to leave the European Union without a divorce deal, after his Brexit Party and pro-EU forces took European Parliament seats at the expense of the long-dominant larger parties.

The governing Conservative Party was all but wiped out as pro-Brexit and pro-EU voters both punished it for leading the country into a political impasse and failing to lead it out of the EU.

With results announced Monday for all of England and Wales, the Brexit Party had won 28 of the 73 British EU seats up for grabs and almost a third of the votes. The pro-EU Liberal Democrats took about 20 percent of the vote and 15 seats - up from only one at the last EU election in 2014.

Labour came third with 10 seats, followed by the pro-European, environmentalist Greens with seven. The ruling Conservatives - apparently blamed by voters for failing to deliver Brexit in March as planned - were in fifth place with just three EU seats and under 10 percent of the vote.

Scotland and Northern Ireland are due to announce their results later.

The election leaves the UK's exit from the bloc ever more uncertain, with both Brexiteers and pro-EU "remainers" able to claim strong support. Labour and the Conservatives, who in different ways each sought a compromise Brexit, were hammered.

The result raises the likelihood of a chaotic "no deal" exit from the EU - but also of a new referendum that could reverse the decision to leave.

"This is the vote that says, put no-deal Brexit back on the table," Farage said.

A triumphant Farage said his party would "stun everybody" in the next British general election if the country didn't leave the EU on the currently scheduled date of 31 October.

Boris Johnson, the current favorite to replace May as the UK's next prime minister, tweeted: "The message from last night's results is clear. It is time for us to deliver Brexit and set out our positive plans for the country."

Farage's Brexit Party was one of several nationalist and populist parties making gains across the continent in an election that saw erosion of support for the traditionally dominant political parties.

Far-right anti-Islam activist Tommy Robinson, meanwhile, was firmly defeated in his bid to become MEP for the North West of England. Robinson secured only 2.2 percent of the vote and lost his deposit, marking the end of a humiliating campaign which was marked by the former English Defence League leader twice being doused in milkshake.

British politics has been in crisis since electors voted 52 percent to 48 percent in June 2016 to leave the EU. But its departure, scheduled for 29 March, has been delayed because lawmakers have rejected the divorce terms struck between the government and the bloc.

The EU parliament election results reflect an electorate deeply divided over Britain's 2016 decision to leave the EU, but united in anger at the two long-dominant parties, the Conservatives and Labour, who have brought the Brexit process to deadlock.

After three defeats for her Brexit deal in Parliament, Prime Minister Theresa May threw in the towel on Friday, announcing that she will step down as party leader on 7 June.