Tories Face "Wipeout" As UK Parties Await Fate After European Election

LONDON (Alliance News) - UK politicians are waiting for the results of European elections which ...

Alliance News 24 May, 2019 | 6:42AM
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LONDON (Alliance News) - UK politicians are waiting for the results of European elections which Theresa May hoped would never have to be held – and which could deliver a damaging blow to her Tory party.

Results of the European contests will not start being announced until Sunday night but opinion polls have suggested Nigel Farage's Brexit Party is on course for victory in the elections, which are only taking place because of the delay to Brexit.

Meanwhile the election watchdog said it was aware of reports that EU citizens had been unable to vote in the UK – and blamed the late notice from May's Government that the poll would be going ahead.

Results will be announced after 10pm on Sunday, when the final polls have closed across Europe.

Both May and Jeremy Corbyn are braced for a backlash from voters, with Farage's party and – from the opposite side of the Brexit divide – the Liberal Democrats expected to pick up votes.

Seventy-three MEPs will be elected to represent the UK, with England, Scotland and Wales using a form of proportional representation called the D'Hondt system and Northern Ireland using the single transferable vote method.

Prominent Conservative MEP Daniel Hannan has said he fears the party is facing "total wipeout" in the European elections and will be left without any representation at all.

The Brexiteer, who has been a member for South East England since 1999, said he suspected the Conservatives would be left with "zero MEPs" following Thursday's poll.

Giving his grim prediction after polls closed, Hannan tweeted: "Thank you to everyone who voted for the @Conservatives today. My sense, for what it's worth, is that we are facing a total wipeout – zero MEPs. I just hope our next leader can get Brexit over the line."

Farage, who is standing in the South East constituency, said: "If you want Brexit, you've got to vote Brexit.

"We did it once, they ignored us, so we're going to tell them again."

In a polling day video message, Corbyn warned "the far right is on the rise" and Britain was "at a crossroads".

"The actions we take now will have huge consequences for our future," he said.

On a campaign visit to Worthing, he added: "This Government can't last very long. And so, get ready for a general election."

But in a sign of Labour's divisions over Brexit, pro-EU MPs Wes Streeting and Ben Bradshaw both spoke of difficult doorstep experiences.

Former Cabinet minister Bradshaw said it was a "dispiriting" experience to see Labour voters "flocking" to the Remain-supporting Greens and Lib Dems, while Streeting said it was "not the easiest of polling days".

May smiled as she arrived to cast her ballot alongside husband Philip in her Maidenhead constituency, but she knows the Tories are in for a difficult set of results after a distinctly lacklustre campaign.

The European elections took place almost three years after the UK voted to leave the EU because of May's failure to get her Brexit deal through Parliament.

The late confirmation on May 7 that voters would go to the polls was highlighted by the Electoral Commission as a factor in the difficulties faced by some EU citizens in casting their ballots.

A commission spokesman said: "We understand the frustration of some citizens of other EU member states, resident in the UK, who have been finding they are unable to vote today when they wish to do so.

"All eligible EU citizens have the right to vote in the EU elections in their home member state.

"If an EU citizen instead chooses to vote in the EU election in the UK, there is a process for them to complete to essentially transfer their right to vote, from their home member state to the UK.

"This is a requirement of EU law, which specifies that this has to be done 'sufficiently in advance of polling day'. UK law sets this as 12 working days in advance of the poll."

The spokesman added: "The very short notice from the government of the UK's participation in these elections impacted on the time available for awareness of this process amongst citizens, and for citizens to complete the process."

Labour's Cat Smith, shadow minister for voter engagement, said: "We repeatedly warned the government that European citizens living in the UK would be denied their right to vote because of its incompetent approach to Brexit.

"From day one, the Tories have buried their heads in the sand about these elections, even at the eleventh hour when it was clear that the government's botched Brexit deal would not pass."

The 3 Million group, which campaigns for the rights of EU citizens in the UK, demanded a full investigation of the "democratic disaster".

"These European elections are significant to so many EU citizens as this might potentially be the last nationwide vote before our voting rights will be downgraded to potholes and bin collections in local elections," a spokesman said.

"The Electoral Commission, but also local authorities, must urgently answer why so many people were denied their right to vote."

A Downing Street spokesman said: "I do recognise there is frustration.

"The running of polls is rightly a matter for independent returning officers.

"It's for them to put in place the necessary planning and contracts with suppliers to produce and deliver items like poll cards and postal votes to meet necessary timetables.

"I'm sure the Electoral Commission will take any reports seriously."

By David Hughes, Press Association Political Editor

source: Press Association

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