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Nigel Farage promises a Ukip earthquake

By Andrew Woodcock

Jubilant Ukip leader Nigel Farage said his "people's army" was on its way to Westminster after securing first place in historic elections for the European Parliament.

Mr Farage said that the eurosceptic party will "give it our best shot" in next week's by-election in Newark and was hoping to secure "a good number" of MPs when the country goes to the polls in May 2015.

Mr Farage said that what he described as the "legacy parties" were "like goldfish that have just been tipped out of the bowl on to the floor, desperately gasping for air and clinging on to the comfort blanket that this is a protest vote".

He said: "This is an earthquake in British politics, it is a remarkable result and I think it has profound consequences for the leaders of the other parties."

Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg insisted he would not resign, despite pressure for a change in leader from activists horrified by a disastrous night for the party, which lost all but one of its 12 MEPs and trailed in fifth in the national vote and sixth in Scotland.

He said the results in local and European elections were "gutting and heartbreaking", but insisted he would not resign. Former MP Sandra Gidley said the Lib Dem brand had become "toxic", while Lib Dem MP John Pugh said he wanted Business Secretary Vince Cable to take over as leader, warning that a fundamental cause of the Lib Dems' "abysmal" showing was the fact that voters were no longer willing to listen to Mr Clegg.

"If we carry on as usual, we are like the generals at the Somme, because these losses are horrendous," the Southport MP told the BBC. "Given the scale of the losses, to call for business as usual is frankly ludicrous."

Ed Miliband insisted that Labour was "in a position where we can win the general election", despite disappointing results which saw the party perform strongly in London but barely scrape into second place nationally, less than two percentage points ahead of the Tories.

After votes were counted in all 11 of Britain's constituencies, Ukip was dominant with 24 MEPs, including one in Wales and its first representative in Scotland.

Its 27.49% share of the national vote was up 10.99 points from the last Euro elections in 2009, when it secured 13 seats.

It was the first time for more than a century that a national vote has not been won by the Conservatives or Labour, as voters turned away from mainstream parties throughout Europe.

Factfile

With counting completed in England, Scotland and Wales, Ukip has 24 seats and 27.4% of the vote, Labour has 20 MEPs and a 25.4% share, the Tories 19 MEPs and a 23.9% share, the Greens three MEPs and a 7.8% share while the Lib Dems managed one MEP and 6.8% of the vote. The Scottish National Party held on to its two MEPs with a 28.9% share of the vote in Scotland, ahead of Labour on 25.9%, Tories on 17.2% and Ukip on 10.4%.

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