Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party wins big in EP elections
The results underscore the growing polarisation of British politics over country's desire to quit the blocEuropost
Britain’s populist Brexit Party marked a clear victory in country’s European Parliament elections, according to early results released on Sunday, further roiling the already turbulent politics of a country polarised over its failure to leave the bloc. The results were a striking success for a party that has existed for only a few weeks, and for Nigel Farage, the campaigner for British withdrawal from the European Union.
At the same time, Brexit Party’s strong performance was a huge blow for the governing Conservatives, whose leader, Prime Minister Theresa May, on Friday announced her resignation after almost three troubled years in power.
Nevertheless, the elections also looked set to deal a crushing blow to the opposition Labour Party as it lost votes to two center-left opponents, the Liberal Democrats and Greens, which both took a clearer position against Brexit and supported a second referendum on the issue.
According to most recent results, out of 64 MEPs declared so far, Farage's party has won 28 (with 31.5% of the vote), the Lib Dems 15, Labour 10, Greens seven, the Tories three and Plaid Cymru one.
Now, the Conservative Party’s dire performance will increase pressure on those campaigning to succeed May to take a hard-line approach to Brexit that could result in the country leaving the European Union without any agreement. By contrast, Labour’s setback is also likely to spur recriminations and prompt calls for it to push more explicitly for another referendum on Brexit. This comes as, In effect, voters appear to have flocked to parties that either took an uncompromising stance in favor of Brexit, or those that oppose it altogether - abandoning the Conservative Party and Labour, which have, in their different ways, been trying to offer some sort of compromise.
"With a big, simple message - which is we've been badly let down by two parties who have broken their promises - we have topped the poll in a fairly dramatic style. The two party system now serves nothing but itself. I think they are an obstruction to the modernising of politics... and we are going to take them on," Farage commented on BBC Radio 4's Today programme after he was re-elected to the EU Parliament.
He also said that his Brexit Party wanted a role in the discussion on withdrawal from the bloc.
“We want to take responsibility for what’s happening, and we’re ready to do so,” he said, adding that Britain should leave when the next Brexit deadline expires. “If we don’t leave on October 31, then the scores you’ve seen for the Brexit Party today will be repeated in a general election, and we are getting ready for it.”