Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage leaves a polling station after voting in the European elections, in Biggin Hill, Britain, May 23, 2019. © REUTERS/Hannah McKay
The Brexit Party appears to have scored big in the UK’s portion of the European Parliament elections, with early results and projections on Sunday night showing it ahead of the rest of the field.
Farage began celebrating as the first exit polls started coming in. “It looks like it’s going to be a big win for the Brexit Party,” he told reporters.
With about 75 percent of the vote in, Brexit has some 32 percent, followed by pro-EU Liberal Democrats with 20, Labour with 14 and the Greens with 12. The Conservatives are taking a massive hit and are projected to win only about nine percent.
UK (GB), 75% counted:
— Europe Elects (@EuropeElects) May 26, 2019
The Brexit Party’s triumph is not coming out of the blue. Ahead of the vote, numerous polls predicted that Farage’s new political venture would pass its first election test with flying colors with an estimated double-digit lead over the Conservative Party, which is days away from losing their leader on June 7, when Theresa May’s resignation comes into force.
The three-day EU-wide elections has attracted the largest turnout in two decades, since 1994, when over 56 percent of the Europeans cast their ballots. In the UK, it has been overshadowed by a leadership struggle in the Conservative Party after Theresa May’s Friday announcement that she would step down as the party’s leader. The Tories saw their voter support sliding due to the Brexit deal debacle that precipitated the PM’s long-awaited bow-out.
Registered just three months before the election, on February 5th, the Brexit Party quickly gained momentum on the back of the growing frustration with May and the Tories’ failure to deliver the long-awaited split with the EU. While the Brexit Party is a novice in the European politics, it has 14 MEPs in the outgoing European Parliament, all defectors from the UK Independence Party (UKIP), including Farage himself. According to BBC projections, Farage’s new project will fare better than UKIP, his former one, which grabbed 24 seats and 27 percent of the popular vote in 2014.
While commanding massive popular support, the Brexit firebrand, who has always been a polarizing figure, has drawn strong criticism from opponents and recently became a victim of a ‘milkshaking’ trend. Farage survived a dousing attack on Monday, when a man threw a milkshake at him, in Newcastle, saying he was protesting his “bile and racism.”