European Parliament Election

A shift in UK Politics or just a flash in the pan?

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This week’s European election results saw several of the UK’s smaller parties, including Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party, reap the rewards of voters losing patience with the Conservatives and Labour. Across the country, The Brexit Party picked up new MEPs at the cost of the two leading parties as did the Lib Dem’s and the Green Party.

It was a successful day for The Brexit Party, with goal of pushing for a swift Brexit allowing them to collect the votes of leave voters. 29 out of the 70 available seats and over 30% of the turnout voted for The Brexit Party, making them comfortably the most successful party of the night. The triumph is hardly surprising as the remain voters were split between several parties, there was no such choice for those who voted leave three years ago.

It can be said that the Brexit Party, despite what Farage has said in the wake of the election results, won’t experience the same success. What use would a Brexit Party be after Brexit is either confirmed or delayed/cancelled? If there is a role for this kind of party then the party, which is still only six weeks old, could see some success. However, what is more likely a return to the more familiar, established parties by the UK electorate. When matters other than Brexit are on the table, then UK voters need to look at the wider picture when it comes to voting for who they want to represent them in the House of Commons.

Records were broken in this week’s election, albeit unwanted ones. The Conservatives had their worst election result since the early 19th century and it was the first time in over 100 years that they had received less votes for the Liberal Democrats, all of this in the week following Theresa May’s announcement that she will be stepping down as Prime Minister.

Labour had nothing to celebrate either, with their worst results in an election since the 1920s. their failure is perhaps less complicated to workout. The party which was once for the average working class voter, but not anymore. There are more appealing prospects elsewhere for even the loyalist of Labour voters.

Once the dust settled on the results, some of the leaders had their say. Jeremy Corbyn assured that he was fully behind a second referendum, yet his failure to remove himself from the fence on Brexit means that this will be taken with a pinch of salt by many voters. Farage also reflected on a successful night by announcing that he felt the Conservatives would be unable to deliver Brexit, leading to a rallying cry that his party could do a better job.

An increasing problem for Labour which was evident in the European election results is their ability to continuously sit on the fence over Brexit. Each party has a clear perspective on Brexit, making it simple for voters. Labour, however, have been vague and unappealing. they so far have tried to appease both leave and remain voters; crashing and burning in the process. Many of their members have called out for the party to become leaders on the remain front, yet this position was held by the Lib Dems when the results of the European Elections. As it stands, this will not be changing anytime soon.

The results show once more that the public have grown tired of the traditional political parties. It is easy for Labour and Conservatives to criticise the basis and origins of the Brexit Party, but at the end of the day it is Farage and his group of Brexiteers which are making themselves a more useful vote than either of the UK’s two biggest parties. Something which is increasingly concerning.

If the new Conservative leader, whoever that may be, is pushed towards calling a General Election then the Brexit Party would surely be confident of ruffling more feathers in London to add to their successes in Brussels. They wanted to change British politics for good, but it would take a good General Election outcome to assure that votes for the Brexit Party were more than just in protest of the dire state of the Conservatives and Labour.

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