Northumberland backs Brexit Party in Euro vote; LibDems gain; Tories and Labour suffer
Northumberland voters have backed Nigel Farage's new Brexit Party, sending a clear message to Government that they are not happy with the way it has handled the UK's departure from Europe.
The North East count for the European Parliament elections, which were held on Thursday (May 23), took place at the Sunderland Tennis Centre in Silksworth last night.
The region as a whole elected two Brexit Party MEPs and one Labour to represent them in Europe, with the result mirroring the national picture on a bad night for the two main parties, Conservative and Labour. Apart from The Brexit Party, which has only been in existence for six weeks, both the Liberal Democrats and the Green Party, which stood on a pledge to hold a second referendum over Britain's decision to bail out of Europe, made significant gains.
The Brexit Party's Brian Monteith and John David Edward Tennant, and Labour's sitting MEP Jude Kirton-Darling were the three MEPs elected to represent the region in Brussels and Strasbourg. MEPs are elected using a list system, where voters choose a political party and candidates are appointed based on the number of votes each party gets.
Labour lost one of its MEPs, Paul Brannen, while Jonathan Arnott, who was elected for UKIP in 2014 but quit the party to sit as an independent, was not up for re-election. But how long the three MEPs elected this year will sit in the European Parliament remains to be seen as the Government and MPs try to find a way forward for Brexit.The North East was the first region to declare a result in the UK, with Farage's party receiving twice as many votes as its nearest rival, Labour.
In Northumberland, the Liberal Democrats, who have traditionally performed strongly in elections in the county, enjoyed a 22.3% share of the vote, gaining 12.6% compared with their performance in the last European elections in 2014 and finished second behind The Brexit Party, which took 38.1% of the votes, benefiting from the collapse of the UKIP support (down 22.8%), but also gaining votes from Conservative (down 16.3%) and Labour (down 13.4%).
The Northumberland results were (with, in brackets, the share of the vote and the change compared with the 2014 election):The Brexit Party: 31,415 (38.1 %, +38.1)Liberal Democrats: 18,390 (22.3%, +12.6)Labour: 11,763 (14.3%, -13.4)Conservative Party: 7,519 (9.1%, -16.3)Green Party: 6,218 (7.5%, +1.9)UK Independence Party: 3,810 (4.6%, -22.8)Change UK: 3,297 (4.0%, +4.0)Turnout: 34.0% (82,412 votes were cast from an electorate of 244,289)
The overall results for the North East were: The Brexit Party 240,056; Labour 119,931; Liberal Democrats 104,330; Green Party 49,905; Conservative 42,395; UKIP 38,269; Change UK 24,968. The turnout figure for the North East overall was 32.7% - a total of 623,289 votes out of a possible 1,905,534.
Nationally, the result also shows how polarised the country is over the issue of leaving Europe. If you add together the votes for the anti-Brexit parties (LibDem, Green, SNP, Change UK, Plaid Cymru), 40.4% backed staying in Europe, while 34.9% of the electorate were pro-Brexit (adding the votes for The Brexit Party and UKIP).
But take out the votes for the two nationalist parties, SNP and Plaid Cymru, which have other specific agendas, and the voting is much closer: Anti-Brexit 35.8%; Pro-Brexit 34.9%.
Although the ballot took place across the UK on Thursday, as most other EU member states hold their elections on Sundays, rules mean results cannot be announced until after 10pm on the final day of polling in the continent.
The European election results came after another tumultuous week in British politics, which Theresa May announcing she would step down as Tory party leader on June 7 after failing to get her Brexit deal through Parliament.