Did Brexit parties really win in the European elections?

Did Brexit parties really win in the European elections?
Copyright REUTERS/Hannah McKay
Copyright REUTERS/Hannah McKay
By Lauren Chadwick
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Euronews looks at the United Kingdom's results and compares Brexit parties to Remain parties.


As both Brexit and Remain parties claim victory in the United Kingdom's European parliamentary elections, Euronews asks which side actually won the election.

Nigel Farage's Brexit Party was the largest single winner of the EU elections, receiving 31.7% of the vote.

But the largest Remain party, the Liberal Democrats, insist that more people voted for Remain-supporting parties.

"More people have supported Remain parties if you count us as the lead Remain party and then Greens and Change UK," Liberal Democrat MEP Judith Bunting said. "Add those votes together, more people have supported us than supported the Brexit party."

"Whoever the leader of the Tory Party is that comes in, they have got to listen to the Remain voices," she continued.

Farage argues the opposite, stating that if you count the Conservatives and UKIP, there are more votes on the Brexit side.

"Don't listen to the nonsense that you are being given from the Liberal Democrats on the stage," Farage said. "Actually, if you look at it all, it's about 52-48 in favour of leave," the Brexit Party leader claimed.

So who really won?

The parties can be split into those insisting on a Brexit at any cost - including leaving the European Union without a deal - and those wishing to reverse the result of the 2016 referendum and remain inside the Union.

The Brexit Party and UKIP are on one side of the divide with the Liberal Democrats, Greens, Change UK and Plaid Cymru, the Scottish Nationalists and Sinn Fein on the other.

However, the two parties which have traditionally dominated British politics have more nuanced positions. The ruling Conservatives like their Ulster Unionist allies are in the Brexit camp. But they have been split between those within the party who refuse to consider a No Deal Brexit and those who see it as a better option than failing to deliver on the referendum result.

For Labour, the situation is even more complicated, with leader Jeremy Corbyn attempting to bridge the divide in his party by offering the prospect of a second referendum to decide the issue without committing firmly to such a vote. His official policy remains to leave the EU while remaining closely tied into the bloc and its rules with a customs union.

Corbyn recently called off cross-party talks with the Tories aimed at finding a common position.

Including the Conservatives with Brexit-supporting parties received roughly 45% of the vote, whereas Remain parties received 39%.

If the Labour party were to move into the remain camp it would give that side a clear majority with roughly 53% of the vote.

Home Secretary Sajid Javid said the results proved that people did not want another election, to which the Liberal Democrats shared their own breakdown of Leave vs. Remain. They included the Conservative party with Leave and the Labour party with Remain.

Alexander Sarti, a web editor at the poll aggregating organisation Europe Elects, pointed out in an interview with Euronews that turnout was low in the UK.

"If we ended up seeing a referendum or a general election but on similar terms, we could very well see considerably different results," Sarti said.

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