European election results expected to give victory to Farage

Nigel Farage speaks with the media as he arrives at the European Parliamentary elections count at the Guildhall in Southampton Credit: Andrew Matthews/PA

Nigel Farage appears set to be the big winner as the Tories and Labour discover the extent of the mauling they have suffered in the European Parliament elections.

The last polls closed across Europe on Sunday, meaning results can be announced in the UK from the election that took place on Thursday, with Mr Farage’s Brexit Party widely expected to triumph.

The Liberal Democrats, from the opposite side of the Brexit divide, are also expected to pick up votes in a sign that the country remains deeply split over the issue of 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”.

With Theresa May already heading for the exit, having said she will quit as Tory leader on June 7, the vote will be an indication of the scale of the challenge facing her successor.

On the Labour side, shadow chancellor John McDonnell said his party was braced for a “good kicking” in the election.

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 ignored 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.”

Mr Watson said: “Our performance (in the European elections) is a direct result of our mealy-mouthed backing for a public vote on Brexit when it is being demanded loud and clear by the overwhelming majority of our members and voters.

“Polls show Labour has been losing up to four times more voters to parties giving full backing to a people’s vote than to (Nigel) Farage.

“And those same polls show we would have beaten him by a country mile if we had unambiguously backed a public vote on any form of Brexit.”

He added: “Never again can we find ourselves hedging our bets when we needed to make an historic choice about which side we’re on.”

A Lib Dem source told the Press Association the party was expecting to give the Tories and Labour a fright.

“Results are likely to make for very worried people in CCHQ (Conservative campaign HQ) and Labour HQ about how many seats we could pick up in a general (election),” the source said.

Seventy-three MEPs will be elected to represent the UK, with England, Scotland and Wales using a form of proportional representation called the D’Hondt system and Northern Ireland using the single transferable vote method.

The vote only took place because of the delays to Brexit, which should have taken the UK out of the European Union before polling day.

Despite the political importance of Brexit, which has dominated the Westminster agenda for months, the election does not appear to have captured the public imagination, although some areas reported increased turnouts.

In the South West, a turnout of 40.5% has been recorded – three percentage points up on 37.4% from 2014 while the North East has 32.7%, slightly up on the 31.6% of 2014, and Eastern has 36.4%, much the same as the 36.6% of 2014.

The turnout for the South East is 39.36%, up from 36.3% in 2014, while in the West Midlands it dropped from 32.4% to 31.1% this year.

The turnout for the South East is 39.36%, up from 36.3% in 2014, while in the West Midlands it dropped from 32.4% to 31.1% this year.

In the North West turnout was down from 33.3% to 33.1% in this year’s elections.

The turnout in Wales is five percentage points up on 2014 – 37.3% as against 32% in the previous Euro poll.

In Northern Ireland, which is at the centre of the Brexit storm over the nature of the border with Ireland, turnout was down to 45.1% from 51% in 2014.