European Parliamentary Elections : Summary Results

A summary of the results for the Yorkshire and Humber Region is as follows:-

Party Name Number of Votes
Change UK – The Independent Group 30,162
Conservative and Unionist Party 92,863
English Democrats 11,283
Green Party 166,980
Labour Party 210,516
Liberal Democrats 200,180
The Brexit Party 470,351
The Yorkshire Party 50,842
UK Independence Party (UKIP) 56,100

Candidates elected were; The Brexit Party – John Longworth, Lucy Elizabeth Harris and Jake Pugh; Labour Party – Richard Graham Corbett; Liberal Democrats – Shaffaq Mohammed; and Green Party – Magid Magid.

Votes for candidates – 1,289,277; Rejected Votes – 7,103; Total Votes Cast – 1,296,380; Electorate – 3,867,792; so the percentage turnout was 33.32%.

Comment

Regionally, it was a good day for The Brexit Party which gained three seats. It was also a good day for the main parties supporting Yorkshire devolution and a Yorkshire Parliament. The Liberal Democrats and the Greens gained a seat each. The Labour Party held on to its seat, but the Conservative and UKIP parties lost theirs.

Obviously, the prime focus of this election was Brexit, but I doubt that the results offer any more clarity than we had before. The message to the Labour and Conservative parties is probably, if anything, sort yourselves out.

The Yorkshire Party more than doubled its share of the vote since its formation at the last European election in 2014 but did not achieve a major breakthrough. This was probably only to be expected as their message of working together for Yorkshire was lost amidst the Brexit hubbub. Was it the right decision for them to stand in these European elections? I think the answer to this is yes. It was certainly a brave decision. The election has given them considerable additional exposure and a mass of data to analyse. If they play their cards right, they should be able to recoup the costs from additional membership fees and donations. The exposure should provide further traction for Yorkshire devolution and their other policies and help to propel the expansion of the party.

The National Perspective

With only a couple of results still to be declared for Northern Ireland, the overall national position is that The Brexit Party has 29 seats and with 5,248,533 votes, a 31.6% share of the total UK vote. The Liberal Democrats have 16 seats and a 20.3% share of the vote. The Labour Party has 10 seats and a 14.1% share of the vote. The Green Party has 7 seats and a 12.09% share of the vote.  The Conservatives have 4 seats and a 9.09% share of the vote. At the time of writing, the SNP has 3 seats, Plaid Cymru 1 seat and the DUP 1 seat. UKIP lost all their seats.

Comment

Whatever your feelings towards Nigel Farage and The Brexit Party, it is a huge achievement to gain 29 seats and become the UK’s largest party in the European Parliament so soon after the party’s formation. Both the main parties have been punished for their handling of Brexit but unsurprisingly the Conservatives, being the party of government, took the brunt of the electorate’s displeasure.

Making sense of what this all means is no easy task. One thing that comes out of this is that if there were to be a second referendum, then the result could be too close to call. The Remainers cannot say that they have made any real inroads into the Brexit vote nor can they say that they are winning the argument, not on these results.

At the same time, The Brexit Party is, as yet, nowhere near a party of government. They appear to have only one policy; Brexit, of the type that is outside the Single Market and the Customs Union and would rely on World Trade Organisation rules to conduct trade with other countries until agreements can be negotiated. This is, in effect, “no deal” to the rest of us; something that the UK is still woefully unprepared for and which may not even by feasible from an administrative perspective. The main parties can take solace from the fact that turnout was around 36%, much lower than that of a general election, and that European elections do not tend to reflect what happens in general elections.

A likely scenario is that the results of this election could drive the government towards a “no deal” Brexit. Both those pushing for a hard Brexit within the Conservative Party and The Brexit Party appear to favour the sort of relationship with the EU as outlined in the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) between the EU and Canada. Something along these lines was offered by the EU at the start of negotiations but, as things currently stand, it is not clear whether the EU would still insist on the Withdrawal Agreement being ratified before negotiations could start. Another issue is that CETA took seven years to negotiate. None of this bodes well for economic stability in the UK. The most sensible option still appears to be an agreement with the EU, but time is fast running out.

There may be other problems. The 2016 referendum was hardly precise. There may be questions around whether it actually covered the “no deal” scenario, in which case would the government have a mandate for “no deal”? Could they get it through Parliament? We certainly live in interesting times.

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