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27 May 2019

Bloomberg: Brexit tears up British politics as Farage tops EU election poll

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Brexit upended Britain’s established political order in European Parliament elections, with both the ruling Conservatives and the main opposition Labour Party scoring their worst results in decades.

Voters backed politicians with clear pro- and anti-European Union agendas, fueling demands for a second referendum on one side of the divisive national debate, and a hard, no-deal split from the EU on the other.

With nearly all the vote counts complete, Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party, which wants the U.K. to leave the EU without an agreement, was in first place, with 32% of the vote across the country. In second place, with 20%, were the Liberal Democrats, who want to stay in the bloc.

Labour, which is split about what to do, was third on 14%, prompting fresh calls from senior party figures to back a second referendum to clarify its own policy and resolve the impasse in Parliament. The anti-Brexit Greens were on 12%.

In fifth place were Theresa May’s Conservatives on 9%, a catastrophic result for the party of government. The heavy defeat immediately sparked calls for the Tories to speed up efforts to leave the bloc or risk being destroyed at the next general election.

May finally gave in to pressure from her Tory critics and announced Friday that she would quit as prime minister. Conservatives supporting a quick, hard break with the EU are likely to use Farage’s success to bolster their case for preparing to leave without a deal.

“Never before in British politics has a new party launched just six weeks ago topped the polls in a national election,” Farage said, after he was re-elected an MEP. “The reason of course is very obvious: We voted to leave in a referendum, we were supposed to do so on March 29 -- and we haven’t.”  [...]

Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt -- one of those running to replace May -- said on Twitter that the result was predictable but “painful” for the Conservatives. He warned of an “existential risk to our party unless we now come together and get Brexit done.”

Boris Johnson, the current favorite to win the leadership, agreed with Hunt’s diagnosis. “The voters are delivering a crushing rebuke to the government -- in fact, to both major parties,” he wrote in his column for the Telegraph newspaper. “I cannot find it in my heart to blame them,” Johnson wrote. “We have missed deadline after deadline, broken promise after promise.” [...]

Full article on Bloomberg

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