Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party has stormed the EU Election in Aylesbury Vale, gaining 33.6% of the votes, despite forming just six weeks ago – but this may only be half of the story.
Voting for members of Parliament for the European Union (MEPs) took place last Thursday across Europe, and on Sunday evening the results were announced.
As expected, Mr Farage’s new group, founded in protest at the fact that the UK is still in the European Union despite having voted to leave three years ago, had a strong showing.
Speaking to this paper, the former United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) leader said:
“It was a momentous win for the Brexit Party six weeks after its foundation.
“It’s a seismic shock to Westminster and a clear message that if they don’t deliver Brexit they will face a similar challenge at the next General Election.”
However, if this election was about Brexit – as Mr Farage suggests - then numbers do not look so good for his side of the debate.
In Aylesbury Vale, when the parties for Leave (Brexit Party and UKIP) and the parties for Remain (Liberal Democrats, Green Party, Change UK & European Union Party) are tallied up the result is 35.8% for Leave and 45.6% for Remain.
Aylesbury Vale District councillor and Liberal Democrat, Anders Christensen, said: “Even if you only add up the Lib Dem and Green vote, who were the two main parties unequivocally for remain, we did considerably better than the Brexit Party in Aylesbury Vale.”
In the 2016 EU referendum, Aylesbury Vale voted narrowly in favour to Leave the European Union 50.5% to 49.5% but last week’s EU Election may indicate that the region has changed its mind.
District Councillor Steven Lambert, also of the Liberal Democrats, said: “I think it’s an accurate reflection of where people are. Since we invoked Article 50 they don’t like the negativity and they want to Remain.”
When asked if the figures may in fact represent a victory for Remain, Mr Farage responded:
“That’s like saying Manchester City didn’t win the Premiership because the three teams below them’s points combined were higher.”
The turnout in Aylesbury Vale was 41.6% - markedly higher than the whole of the UK, which was 36.9%.
The EU Election is actually fought at a regional level, with Aylesbury Vale falling into the south-east area. It elects ten MEPs. Sunday’s results revealed that four of these now come from The Brexit Party, including Mr Farage, three from the Liberal Democrats, one from The Green Party, one from Labour and one from the Conservatives.
The European Parliament, which has legislative powers, is comprised of 751 democratically elected members who represent the second-largest democratic electorate in the world (after the Parliament of India).
The UK has 73 MEPs – nearly 10% of the parliament, despite there currently being 28 member states.