European Elections Hurt Labour And Conservative
In a way, it was unsurprising that the ruling Conservative Party did badly in the European Parliament elections. It had been their stated intention that the UK would not participate in them since it would have left the EU at the end of March. The failure to achieve this incensed Tory voters that favour Brexit (and much of the party’s estimated 124000 membership) vented their anger by backing Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party (or UKIP); those voters opposed to Brexit found themselves voting for another party in the hope that Brexit can still be averted, leaving a much reduced number of faithful Tory voters.
For the Labour Party, it was much the same. Remain supporters in the party and their electoral base were frustrated with the leadership’s insistence that it try to be all things to all people and deserted it for the LibDems, Greens, SNP or Plaid Cymru (a Welsh nationalist party) all of whom are strongly linked to remain policies and a further referendum. They also lost Brexit supporters to the Brexit Party for the same reason, that they didn’t know where the party stood on the issue.
The biggest winner on the night (Thursday, but results were not revealed until all EU voting finished on Sunday) was the Brexit Party and the biggest loser was UKIP. The Brexit Party won 29 seats out of 73; the LibDems took 16 seats; Labour were on 10; the Greens took 7; the Conservatives 4; the SNP 3 and Plaid Cymru 1 ( seats are allocated on a regional basis, the SNP took 3 of the 6 Scottish seats).
Whilst the Brexit Party clearly won the most seats, its vote was essentially unsplit since significant numbers of Labour and Conservative pro-Brexit voters jumped ship to it. However, the total vote for the Brexit Party and UKIP came in at 34.9% whereas the total for the remain supporting parties (minus Labour) came in at 40.4%. This clearly shows that there is no consensus in favour of the “no deal” Brexit that Farage’s party currently advocates. If the Tory vote is placed in the leave column and the Labour vote given to remain (reflecting the position of its membership), the totals for leave and remain become 46 and 53%, respectively.
On Friday, Mrs May announced her resignation and started the contest to succeed her. Whilst it is thought that the next leader will clearly be a Brexiter, it is hard to see how they will fare any better than she did in delivering Brexit.