Tories routed as Nigel Farage issues general election warning
Nigel Farage predicted general election success for his Brexit Party if the UK does not leave the European Union after claiming victory in the European contests.
On a terrible night for the Conservatives and Labour, the pro-EU Liberal Democrats emerged as the other big winners – underlining the continuing deep divisions over Brexit in British politics.
Foreign Secretary and Tory leadership hopeful Jeremy Hunt said the dire results for the Conservatives meant the party faced an “existential risk” unless it delivered Brexit.
Meanwhile two of Labour’s most senior figures – Emily Thornberry and Tom Watson – tore into the campaign fought by Jeremy Corbyn, claiming the party had lacked a clear message and should have backed another referendum.
Mr Corbyn said: “With the Conservatives disintegrating and unable to govern, and parliament deadlocked, this issue will have to go back to the people, whether through a general election or a public vote.”
In a sign that he could consider a shift in position, he added: “Over the coming days we will have conversations across our party and movement, and reflect on these results on both sides of the Brexit divide.”
Mr Farage hailed his party’s success as he was elected in the South East, saying: “There’s a huge message here, massive message here – the Labour and Conservative parties could learn a big lesson from tonight – though I don’t suppose that they actually will.”
In a message to the Westminster parties he added: “If we don’t leave on October 31 then the scores you have seen for the Brexit Party today will be repeated in a general election, and we are getting ready for it.”
Mr Farage repeated his demand for the Brexit Party to be involved in the negotiations ahead of the Halloween deadline.
After 10 of the 11 constituencies in England, Scotland and Wales had declared, the Brexit Party had 28 seats, overhauling the 24 MEPs that Mr Farage’s former party Ukip sent to the European Parliament in 2014.
The Lib Dems, who were reduced to just a single MEP in 2014, were on 15.
Labour had 10, halved from 20, the Greens – who also enjoyed a boost from pro-EU voters – were on seven, up from three in 2014.
Plaid Cymru equalled the single seat they won in 2014.
The Tories had just three MEPs, having won 19 in 2014.
Mr Hunt said “we knew it was coming but still a painful result” adding there was an “existential risk to our party unless we now come together and get Brexit done”.
Liberal Democrat leader Sir Vince Cable said it had been a “brilliant set of EU results” with the party “making gains around the country with some really impressive swings in many seats”.
It was “proof that the Lib Dems are the biggest, strongest voice of Remain”.