'The people have spoken': How Remain parties beat hard Brexiteers in European elections

Dan Kitwood/Getty ImagesLib Dem leader Sir Vince Cable and Green Party MP Caroline Lucas.
  • Pro-Remain parties outperformed hard Brexit parties in the European Parliament elections.
  • Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party was the best performing individual party.
  • However, the combined vote share of the UK’s anti-Brexit parties was bigger than that of those which want to leave the European Union without a deal.
  • “The real story from last night’s results is the huge surge in support for the Lib Dems and other strongly pro-People’s Vote parties,” referendum backer and Lib Dem MP Jo Swinson said.
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LONDON – The European election results in the UK have been hailed as a victory for political parties in favour of remaining in the European Union, after anti-Brexit parties collectively won more votes than those parties calling for a “hard” exit.

Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party was the biggest individual winner on Sunday night, coming first place overall with 32% of the national vote and a projected victory of 29 out of the 73 seats available to the United Kingdom in the European Parliament.

However, anti-Brexit campaigners quickly pointed out that the combined vote share of the Brexit Party and fellow pro-Brexit UKIP was smaller than that of parties which explicitly campaigned to reverse Brexit.

Parties that went into to the European elections unambiguously calling for a “People’s Vote” referendum to stop Brexit – the Liberal Democrats, Greens, Change UK, SNP and Plaid Cymru – together got received a projected 40% of the vote.

But the combined vote share of the Brexit Party and UKIP, who both advocate leaving the EU without a deal, was 35%.

Campaigners for a referendum believe this shows that there is public support for the decision on Brexit to go back to the people.

Jo Swinson, Lib Dem MP and supporter of the People’s Vote campaign, said “the real story from last night’s results is the huge surge in support for the Lib Dems and other strongly pro-People’s Vote parties.”

Sian Berry, co-leader of the Green Party, said: “The vote tally for clearly Remain parties is higher than for that of the Brexit Party and Ukip. The people have spoken.”

Green Party Sian BerryMatt Cardy/Getty ImagesGreen Party co-leader Sian Berry.

A country totally divided

While it is true that pro-Remain parties together outperformed the pro-hard Brexit parties, the European results show that the UK is bitterly divided over Brexit – and even more so than it was in the 2016 referendum.

Parties that either want to leave the EU on the hardest terms possible or instead scrap Brexit altogether got nearly 80% of the national vote when Brits went to the ballot box last week.

However, the two parties that are calling for some form of Brexit compromise – i.e Theresa May’s Conservatives and Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party – both suffered terrible results. The Tories came fifth overall and plummeted to their lowest ever vote share in a national election. Labour hemorrhaged votes and dropped from 25% to less than 15%.

This shows that British public opinion has become increasingly polarised, with very little appetite for compromise.

“How our politicians get out of this mess is not clear at all,” polling guru John Curtice told the BBC.

European elections projected vote share (UK)

  • Brexit Party: 32% (+32%)
  • Lib Dems: 20% (+13%)
  • Labour: 14% (-11%)
  • Green: 12% (+4%)
  • Conservatives: 9% (-15%)
  • SNP: 4% (+2%)
  • UKIP: 3% (-24%)
  • Change UK: 3%
  • Plaid Cymru 1%

Got a tip? Email this reporter at [email protected] and send him a direct message on Twitter at @adampayne26.

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