The Brexit Party has surged to a crushing victory in the European Parliament elections as the Tories suffered their worst ever results and Labour was punished by the Liberal Democrats.
Nigel Farage’s new party won more than 30 per cent of the national vote and secured a stunning 28 seats from a standing start having only launched in April.
The Conservative Party was almost wiped out as it came in fifth place with just nine per cent of the vote and three seats – down 15 on 2014 – with Jeremy Hunt, the Foreign Secretary, saying the Tories now faced an “existential risk”.
Meanwhile, the resurgent Lib Dems came second, securing more than 20 per cent of the vote and 15 MEPs, after campaigning on a stop Brexit ticket as pro-Remain voters appeared to send a brutal message to Labour.
Jeremy Corbyn’s party slipped to third place with 14 per cent of the vote as it lost eight of its seats, finishing with 10 MEPs after 371 of 373 counts had declared.
The results prompted Mr Corbyn to hint that Labour could now move to calling for a second Brexit referendum in all circumstances while senior party figures said it must campaign to remain.
It was a grim night for Labour and the Tories and the results suggested both must now take urgent action if they want to retain their status as the UK’s two main political parties.
Mr Farage was the major winner as he was elected in the South East region and said: “History has been made. This is just the beginning.”
He delivered a stark warning to the Tories and Labour as he claimed The Brexit Party was ready to inflict the same damage at the next general election.
“If we don’t leave on October 31 then the scores you have seen for the Brexit Party today will be repeated in a general election, and we are getting ready for it,” he said.
The Tories won 18 seats in 2014 but they were decimated at the ballot box on May 23 as voters deserted them for failing to deliver Brexit.
The Conservative Party’s fifth-placed finish with a share of the vote in single figures will cause major concerns at Tory HQ and highlights the scale of the challenge now facing Theresa May’s successor who will be elected in the coming weeks.
Mr Hunt, one of the favourites to be the next Tory leader, said the Conservatives “knew it was coming” but it was “still a painful result”.
“Existential risk to our party unless we now come together and get Brexit done,” he said.