An anti-EU party formed six weeks ago has swept to victory in the European elections in the UK and its leader warns the result will be repeated at a general election.
In an election the United Kingdom shouldn’t be having, the newly formed party Brexit Party that wants out of the European Union has been victorious in the European Parliaments elections in the UK.
Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party, formed just six weeks ago, has wiped the floor with the ruling Conservative Party and the main opposition Labour Party.
The huge vote for a party that wants out of the EU illustrates the anger at the failure of outgoing Prime Minister Theresa May and her party to take the UK out of the European Union.
Showing how divided the UK is over whether to quit the EU the Liberal Democrats, who are politically opposed to the Brexit Party, are also expected to gain seats and be the second most popular party.
Prominent Tory MEP Daniel Hannan acknowledged his party faced a “total wipeout”, while shadow chancellor John McDonnell said Labour was braced for a “good kicking”.
Foreign Secretary and Conservative leadership hopeful Jeremy Hunt said the dire results for the Conservatives meant the party faced an “existential risk” unless it delivered Brexit.
The UK is only taking part in the election because Prime Minister May was unable to convince her colleagues to quit the European Union.
May on Friday announced she was stepping down on June 7, saying it was a matter of deep regret that she could not deliver Brexit.
“It looks like it’s going to be a big win for the Brexit Party,” Farage told reporters in Southampton in southern England where he was elected.
Farage said he wanted his party involved in the Brexit negotiations and that he was preparing for a general election.
“If we don’t leave on Oct. 31 then the score that you have seen for the Brexit Party today will be repeated in a general election and we are getting ready for it.”
Elsewhere in Europe, the task of picking the five names that will hold the European Union’s top jobs and guide its future has got harder after EU assembly elections highlighted the deepening political fragmentation of the 28-country bloc.
The two biggest centrist groups in the current European Parliament – the European Peoples’ Party (EPP) to the right and the Socialists & Democrats (S&D) on the left – will no longer hold a majority in the new 751-seat chamber, estimates showed.
Together, the two are expected to be down from 401 lawmakers to 332 seats in the next five-year European Parliament, short of the 376-vote majority needed to approve a new head of the bloc’s executive European Commission.
“We are facing a shrinking centre,” said Manfred Weber, the EPP’s candidate to lead the Commission. “I don’t see a majority against the liberals, I don’t see a majority against the socialists, I don’t see a majority against the EPP … So what I would ask us to do to is to join our forces to work together from now.”
Farage is best known as the former leader of the UK Independence Party (UKIP) from 2006 to 2009 and from 2010 to 2016.