Nigel Farage’s newly formed Brexit party has stormed to victory in the European Parliament elections in the UK, as support for the Conservatives and Labour collapsed on a night when Britain’s deep divide over the EU was starkly exposed.
Mr Farage’s party had won 32 per cent of the vote with results from nine out of 10 UK regions declared, but the anti-Brexit Liberal Democrats surged to second place with 20 per cent — reflecting the polarisation of public opinion.
With votes shifting en masse to parties which either favoured a no-deal Brexit or a second referendum to reverse Brexit, the prospect of a Westminster compromise looked more remote than ever.
Conservatives and Labour were eviscerated as pro-hard Brexit parties — Brexit and Ukip — polled 35 per cent, while anti-Brexit parties — Lib Dems, Greens, Change UK, SNP and Plaid Cymru — polled a combined 40 per cent.
The big losers on the night were the Conservatives, whose vote slumped to 9 per cent, prompting warnings from Tory leadership contender Boris Johnson that the party risked being “dismissed from office” unless it delivered Brexit.
Jeremy Hunt, foreign secretary and another challenger for Theresa May’s job, said the Tories faced “an existential threat”, on a night where the Brexit party won most votes in the prime minister’s Maidenhead constituency, pushing the Conservatives into third.
The party’s Eurosceptic MPs and Tory activists will now clamour for a new leader to take on Mr Farage by promising to take Britain out of the EU on October 31, if necessary without a deal.