Friday

18th Oct 2019

After victory, Farage wants seat at Brexit talks

  • Nigel Farage has been an MEP since June 1999. He will be returning at least one more time, after the huge win of his Brexit Party (Photo: European Parliament)

The Brexit Party wants to be part of talks on how the UK will leave the EU, its leader Nigel Farage said late on Sunday (26 May), after provisional results showed a huge win for the six-week-old party.

The UK citizens that went to the polls on Thursday gave 31.7 percent of their votes to the Brexit Party, sending - in the words of Farage - a "massive message" to the UK government.

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  • Although the most votes going to a single party went to the Brexit Party, outspokenly pro-Remain parties also did well at the UK election of MEPs (Photo: Chris Beckett)

"We in the Brexit party have got men and women of considerable business experience," said Farage.

"We want to be part of that negotiating team. We want to take responsibility for what's happening and we are ready to do so. I hope the government is listening," he added.

The provisional results, updated at 2AM on Monday morning, saw the ruling Conservative party of Theresa May receive only 8.1 percent of the votes cast.

According to the BBC, it was the worst result for the Conservatives since the 1830s.

The poor result will only complicate the party's search for a new leader, after May announced on Friday she would resign on 7 June.

Meanwhile, the other traditionally mainstream party in the UK did not do well either.

Labour received 14 percent of the vote, amidst a resurrection for the pro-EU Liberal Democrats, who came second with 18.5 percent.

The Greens also did well, winning 11 percent of the votes, ahead of the Conservatives.

Thursday's vote was initially not even supposed to have taken place. After a majority of voters in a 2016 referendum ticked 'leave', the UK had eyed 31 March 2019 as its exit date.

However, after UK prime minister May had been unable three times to secure a parliamentary majority for the deal her government negotiated with the EU, the exit date has been postponed twice.

The new date for Brexit is now 31 October.

The vote result only further shows the sharp divisions among British society on the Brexit issue.

While the 31.7 percent vote for the Brexit Party is a strong signal for support for leaving the EU, one could just as well argue that there is strong support for remaining in the EU after all.

Together, the pro-Remain parties Liberal Democrats, Greens, the Scottish National Party, Wales' Plaid Cymru and Change UK, received some 37.5 percent of the votes.

"We will stand up for you and keep campaigning to stop Brexit," Liberal Democrats outgoing leader Vince Cable said.

"People want a chance to vote again, they want a final say," said MP Ed Davey, a contender to succeed Cable.

Second-highest turnout ever

Although the UK was supposed to have left the EU before the European parliament elections, the political establishment's difficulty to deliver Brexit paradoxically drove UK voters to the polls to elect their MEPs.

The United Kingdom saw the second-highest turnout for EU elections in its history as a member.

Since 1979, when members of the European Parliament were first directly elected by the people, turnout in the UK has never been higher than 40 percent.

This year saw 37 percent of British eligible voters cast their ballot. Only in 2004, when turnout was 38.5 percent, has turnout for an EU election been higher.

The Brexit Party is now expected to send 29 MEPs to Brussels and Strasbourg - making it the largest single party delegation on par with the German Christian-Democrat coalition of CDU/CSU, which is also sending 29 MEPs.

It also means that the sight of Farage speaking in the plenary session is not confined to the history books, or YouTube, yet.

Farage has resigned from his previous party, Ukip, multiple times, but will now be able to celebrate 20 years of being an MEP, next month.

He can be expected to make his presence felt in EU debates, when the parliament comes together for its first Strasbourg session in the new term on 2 July.

Farage claims Barnier 'does not get' Brexit

The first official meeting between EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier and leading Brexit campaigner, MEP Nigel Farage has no impact on the talks, but gave a chance for the former UKIP leader to boast.

Farage resigns: 'I want my life back'

The prominent vote Leave campaigner and anti-EU MEP already resigned Ukip top job three times before. This time it is final, he said.

Conflicts of interest loom for Brexit Party MEPs

New Brexit Party MEP June Alison Mummery is the director of a company active in the fishing industry. She just joined the EU parliament's fisheries committee as a substitute member.

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