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EU Parliament poll: Farage's Brexit Party surges as Eurosceptic groups rise

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Brexit campaigner and Member of the European Parliament Nigel Farage arrive
Brexit campaigner and Member of the European Parliament Nigel Farage arrive -
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Eurosceptic parties would see a sharp rise in support in the European elections, according to new projections published by the European Parliament, with Nigel Farage's newly formed Brexit Party showing a surge.

The poll marks the first time the European Parliament has included the UK in its forecasts

While the British Labour party would lead the elections by securing 19 seats (26.5% of votes) and the Conservatives trail in second with 12 seats (16.5% of votes), it is Eurosceptic parties within the UK and the EU that are showing strength.

The Brexit Party and UKIP party, each with 13.5% of votes, would collectively hold 19 seats in EU Parliament, according to the projections.

It's likely the Brexit Party will make further gains. The European Parliament forecasts included polls carried out up until April 15, and therefore does not include the latest YouGov poll published on Thursday that found the Brexit Party would leapfrog to the top the polls with 27%, beating out Labour (22%) and the Conservatives (15%).

European Parliament
EU election projections from 15 April 2019.European Parliament

Populists rising

Two right-wing groups in Parliament, the Europe of Freedom and Direct Democracy (EFDD) and Europe of Nations and Freedom (ENF), will make gains — with big surges forecast in Italy in particular.

Italian Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini's Lega party, which is aligned with ENF, would secure 31.4% of votes (26 seats), while the 5-Star Movement, which is housed within the EFDD, would take home 21.5% of votes (18 seats). That's a huge leap considering the current European parliament has six seats belonging to the Lega, while 5-Star has 12.

In France, President Emmanuel Macron's LREM party pipped Marine Le Pen's Rassemblement National. Le Pen's nationalist party is forecast to take in 21.2% of votes, while LREM and its MODEM alliance polled at 23%.

The two biggest groups in parliament, the centre-right European People's Party (EPP) and the centre-left Socialists and Democrats (S&D), will take hits. The EPP and the S&D are both forecast to lose five points, pulling in 24% and 19.8% of votes respectively.

Brexit extension shakeup

Following the Brexit referendum, the EU had to decide what to do with the UK's 73 parliament seats. EU leaders last summer decided to reduce the number of MEP seats overall — as well as redistribute some (27 seats to be precise) to 14 under-represented member states.

But that all changed when EU leaders and British Prime Minister Theresa May agreed in April to a second Brexit extension lasting up until the end of October — but the terms included this condition: the UK must participate in next month's elections if they do not secure a withdrawal agreement, or else face a no-deal exit.

The EU's Brexit coordinator Guy Verhofstadt, of the liberal ALDE group, has criticised EU leaders' decision to allow another Brexit extension and the UK's participation at the polls, saying it will "poison" the elections.