Brexit party surges, Tories and Labour take pounding in EU elections

Elections have consequences. And failing to execute a mandate from an election has consequences too, as both Conservatives and Labour discovered in the UK’s EU elections. Despite only being weeks old and largely without a policy portfolio, the Brexit party won almost a third of the vote, outstripping the UK’s two main parties — combined:

Britain’s newly-formed Brexit Party comfortably beat the country’s two main parties in European Parliamentary elections, early results showed Monday, as voters expressed their frustration over the Brexit deadlock. …

The U.K. participated in European Parliamentary elections on Thursday after failing to leave the EU at the end of March. The UK is electing 73 MEPs from across 12 regions and 10 have so far declared. The Brexit Party have 28 MEPs winning 32% of the vote and are largest party in 9 regions.

The pro-EU Lib Dems have also made gains, taking second place with 20%. The Green Party also enjoyed a good night, recording its best performance since 1989.

The Conservative Party was ignored by the electorate, winning only 3 MEPs while the main opposition Labour Party won 10 MEPs and just 11% of the vote.

The Guardian shows that eleven of the twelve UK regions have been tallied, and the numbers haven’t changed much. Conservatives fell to fifth place, trailing the Greens by three full points. Between them, the two main parliamentary parties only got 23.2% of the vote, well behind the new Brexit party’s 31.6%.

Northern Ireland has yet to be counted, but the result there appears to be much different. The Alliance Party, which ran on an explicit pro-EU platform, may take one of the enclave’s three MEP seats:

The election is set to shake up the political landscape in Northern Ireland with the third seat in the three-seat constituency almost certain to the pro-remain Alliance Party.

After the first count the party’s leader Naomi Long was hot on the heels of the two main political parties, Sinn Fein and the DUP, who were in first and second place. …

After the first count Sinn Fein were number 1 with Martin Anderson polling 126,951 votes, followed by the Democratic Unionist party’s Diane Dodds with 124,991. Long polled an astonishing 105,928 in a potential re-set of the Brexit debate in Northern Ireland.

As Lisa O’Carroll points out, that means that the third seat will be pro-backstop, a direct rebuke to the DUP’s position in Brexit negotiations. Don’t forget that Northern Ireland voted for Remain in the referendum, and Brexit isn’t quite as popular there. Their concern has mostly been to keep from being split off from the rest of the UK. This result, assuming it holds, will certainly confuse the situation at home, but it will make it much easier for Brussels to maintain a hard line on future Brexit negotiations.

Speaking of which … guess who’s coming to dinner?

Farage, elected as a Member of the European Parliament for the South East of England, said he wanted to be involved in Brexit negotiations and warned that British politics was on the cusp of major upheaval unless Brexit took place on Oct. 31.

“We want to be part of that negotiating team,” Farage said in Southampton, southern England.

“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.”

Farage makes note of the unprecedented success of the Brexit party’s first election, and warned that it sent “a massive message” to the British political establishment:

If so, it’s not the only massive message being sent in these EU elections. The centrist parties lost their combined control of the European Parliament across the EU, not just in the UK. Nationalist parties gained, but so did more radical environmentalist parties on the Left:

Europeans woke Monday to a new political reality after European Parliament elections ended the domination of the E.U.’s main center-right and center-left parties and revealed a changed political landscape where the far-right, pro-business groups and environmentalists will be forces to be reckoned with.

Turning out in numbers not seen for 20 years, voters took their concerns about immigration and security to the ballot box, making parties led by the likes of Italy’s populist Matteo Salvini and France’s far-right leader Marine Le Pen among the biggest in the 28-nation bloc’s assembly.

“The rules are changing in Europe,” Salvini, Italy’s hard-line interior minister, said at his League party headquarters in Milan early Monday. “A new Europe is born.”

In the short term, this all but cinches a Brexit crash-out for the UK. A centrist-heavy coalition might have been tempted to reopen negotiations with the UK, but nationalists and leftists have less incentive to unite in such an enterprise. The vote in Northern Ireland suggests that a crash-out is likely to accelerate momentum toward reunification in Ireland as the harsh conditions of trade and movement across the border will be felt hardest where Brexit was least popular to start. Conservatives and Labour now have incentives to delay the next election as long as possible, and for Labour perhaps even more so, as they will have to either back a hard Brexit or flat-out oppose any Brexit at all. And voters just showed how little patience they have with parties that don’t deliver on their promises.

It’s gonna get reeeeaaaaallly interesting in the UK between now and Halloween.