Belfast Telegraph

Home News UK

Farage on course for election victory with disaster beckoning for Tories and Labour

Adrian Rutherford

By Adrian Rutherford

Nigel Farage looked set to be the big winner as early results suggested a disastrous night for the Tories and Labour in the European Parliament elections.

The last polls closed across Europe last night, with counting in Northern Ireland due to get underway today.

Nationally, Mr Farage's Brexit Party appeared on course for a triumphant night.

The Liberal Democrats, from the opposite side of the Brexit divide, looked to have polled strongly in a sign that the UK remains deeply split over Europe.

In an early indication of the Brexit Party surge, in the first declared result Labour lost a seat in the North East region of England.

The Brexit Party picked up two seats and 38.7% of the vote, double Labour's vote share which gave it one seat - in 2014 Labour won two seats, with Ukip on one.

Prominent Tory Brexiteer Daniel Hannan acknowledged he faced losing his seat in South East England as the party faced a "total wipeout".

In Islington, where Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry have Westminster seats, the Lib Dems claimed the top spot. The embarrassing result for Labour saw them claim 19,017 votes compared with 19,890 for the Lib Dems.

Ms Thornberry said she expected the party to have a set of "really bad results", and called for a change of direction from the leadership.

Deputy Labour leader Tom Watson said the party must "find some backbone" and fully commit to a second referendum on Brexit to have any chance of winning the next general election.

A dismal set of results - particularly if votes drift to pro-EU rivals the Lib Dems, the Greens and Change UK - could heap pressure on Jeremy Corbyn to change course.

But Mr McDonnell told Sky News: "It would have been easy to go to one side, go to the Remain side and ignore all those people who voted Leave - that's not the nature of our party.

"We are the party that is trying to bring people back together again.

"That's been difficult electorally for us in these elections, of course it has.

"But now we have got to move on."

Liberal Democrat sources said the party expected to win three MEPs in London, having been wiped out in the capital in 2014.

Seventy-three MEPs will be elected to represent the UK - three from Northern Ireland, where turnout was down to 45.1% from 51% in 2014.

The DUP and Sinn Fein candidates, Diane Dodds and Martina Anderson, are expected to hold their seats, with a three-way fight between the SDLP, UUP and Alliance for the third, which had been held by the retiring Ulster Unionist Jim Nicholson.

In the Republic, there was disappointment for former SDLP leader Mark Durkan, who conceded he is unlikely to win an MEP seat in Dublin.

Mr Durkan ran as a Fine Gael candidate for the Dublin constituency. An RTE exit poll estimated his vote share was just 5%.

Arriving at the count centre at the RDS yesterday evening, he said the possibility of winning the seat seemed unlikely.

"I'm not in here believing I am going to defy the gravity of the exit poll," he said.

"But I don't regret running, I've enjoyed the conversations with people across Dublin, I've enjoyed it as an experience."

Belfast Telegraph


From Belfast Telegraph