Nigel Farage's Brexit Celebration set to win most UK seats in EU vote
Nigel Farage, leader of the Brexit Party, reacts as he speaks to members of the media at a European Parliamentary elections count centre in Southampton, U.K., on Sunday, May 26, 2019.
Simon Dawson/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Britain‘s newly-formed Brexit Party will comfortably beat the country’s two main parties in European Parliamentary elections, exit polls and early results showed Sunday, as voters expressed their frustration over the Brexit deadlock.
The projected result comes shortly after Conservative Party leader Theresa May announced her resignation as prime minister on Friday morning.
Brexit has gripped British society for more than three years, splintering both the ruling Conservative Party and the opposition Labour party into warring factions since the country’s EU referendum in June 2016.
The U.K. participated in European Parliamentary elections on Thursday after failing to leave the EU at the end of March. The exit polls are not necessarily an accurate indication of the result. A BBC projection shortly after 10 p.m. local time put the Brexit Party ahead.
Veteran euroskeptic campaigner Nigel Farage — who is credited by some with forcing Britain’s 2016 referendum on EU membership — launched his new party in April, after claiming the country’s political leaders had betrayed the vote to leave. Farage’s former party UKIP (The U.K. Independence Party) gained the most U.K. seats at the 2014 European Parliamentary election.
He has promised to challenge Britain’s political leadership and fast-track the country’s departure from the bloc.
The world’s fifth-largest economy is currently due to leave the EU in October, but with Parliament split over the terms of the country’s departure, it remains unclear how — or even if — it will.
Brexit Party ‘getting ready’ for a general election
“The Labour and Conservative parties could learn a big lesson from tonight but I don’t suppose that they actually will,” Farage said, shortly after the Brexit Party was seen winning the most U.K. seats.
“I have to say this, 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,” he added.
On three occasions, U.K. lawmakers refused to vote in favor of May’s much-maligned deal to leave the EU. It means an orderly exit with a deal, a no-deal departure, a general election and a second referendum that could ultimately reverse the 2016 vote to leave the bloc all remain possible over the coming months.
Centrist bloc to lose majority
The European elections are widely seen as a test on national leaders across the 28 countries.
Initial results on Sunday evening suggested the EU Parliament’s established centrist bloc would most likely fail to gain a majority at this week’s election.
A strong showing for Liberal and Green parties in Germany and France, as well as robust performances from euroskeptic groups in Italy, Hungary and the U.K., is likely to mean the EU Parliament will be much more fragmented over the next five years.
Voter turnout has typically been one of the EU election’s biggest challenges. But, early indications show that figure has hit 50.5% this year, up from 43% in the 2014 election.