European elections 2019: Brexit Party wins three seats in the East Midlands

image copyrightPA
image captionBrexit Party MEP Annunziata Rees-Mogg said her brother "will be devastated" at the Conservative's performance in the election

The Brexit Party took the top honours in the East Midlands' European election with Annunziata Rees-Mogg, sister of Conservative MP Jacob Rees-Mogg, elected.

The new party took three of the five available seats with the Liberal Democrats and Labour taking one each.

The Conservatives and UKIP now have no MEPs in the region, having both lost the two seats they each won in 2014.

Turnout was 34.7%, a slight increase from last time.

The Brexit Party, led by former UKIP leader Nigel Farage, took 38.2% of the vote in a region which voted to leave in the EU referendum by 58.8%.

The Liberal Democrats saw the largest share of the vote increase having lost all its MEPs at the last EU election.

UKIP and the Conservatives were the big losers on the night, dropping 28% and 15.3% of their share of the vote respectively. Labour's share dropped by 11% although it retained its single seat in the parliament.

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Ms Rees-Mogg, who was unsuccessful representing the Conservatives at a general election, described the results as "quite astounding".

"They have been far bigger percentages than I had anticipated, although while I was on the streets in areas as diverse as Boston, Mansfield, Skegness and Chesterfield, the people were telling us they wanted to be listened to," she said.

Addressing how her brother will be feeling after a disappointing evening for the Conservatives, Ms Rees-Mogg said: "I have no doubt he will be devastated at what has been done to his own party, the Conservatives."

'Want to remain'

Lib Dem Bill Newton Dunn, who returned to the European Parliament after losing his seat in 2014, claimed he was "the only person in the whole of Europe who has fought every single European election".

"I think this is a turning point today. We've demonstrated across the country there's been a change in public opinion and now the British people are not so sure they want to repeat the referendum result, they want to remain."

Labour's Rory Palmer said the election was set against a background of "unique, complex circumstances" and that people "didn't just vote on Brexit".

"There's no getting away from it being... a very difficult night for Labour. Overall I'm very sorry to have heard of the loss of some good colleagues in other regions.

"I think there's a number of reasons for that, but here in the East Midlands my priority will be for strong effective representation... for whatever amount of time."

Conservative candidate Tony Harper said: "I would have liked to have seen us get at least one MEP through.

"Nobody dreamt that we'd be taking part [in this election] so we had to play catch up."

Map of Great Britain showing the leading parties for each local authority


By BBC East Midlands political editor Tony Roe

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image captionAnna Soubry tried to put on a "brave face" on a disappointing night for Change UK

Lifelong Conservative voters turned away from the party in these elections and the Tories' concern now is how do they win them back?

Five years ago during the last election Melton Mowbray was one of those Tory strongholds which managed to hold off the surge in support for Brexit.

Now the failure to deliver Brexit has sent Tory voters into the arms of Nigel Farage's new Brexit Party with the Tories plunging into a sorry fourth place.

That's because remain parties - the Liberal Democrats and the Greens - picked up votes too.

It was a good night for the Liberal Democrats in the East Midlands who secured the bulk of the votes of those who want to stay in the European Union. Rushcliffe in Nottinghamshire was the only place they won the popular vote, just, ahead of the Brexit Party.

Apart from that slab of orange the only places with a non Brexit Party winner were the heavily Labour cities of Nottingham and Leicester. They stayed Labour and ensured Labour kept their single MEP, Rory Palmer.

Along with Rushcliffe, Leicester was the only Remain stronghold in the East Midlands in the 2016 referendum. And it seems even more entrenched in that camp now.

For Change UK, it was a disappointing night. Anna Soubry and Chris Leslie tried to put brave faces on it saying they have come from nowhere to win over half a million votes in the country. Surely they have to do some deal with the new Liberal Democrat leader.

An October election had seemed on the cards to break the parliamentary deadlock. But the EU election results might make that hard for some Conservatives to contemplate. Labour want an election but some of their MPs in Brexit backing East Midlands seats would surely lose.

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