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The nascent Brexit Party was the big winner of the election, taking 29 out of Britain’s 73 seats in the European Parliament.

TOLGA AKMEN/AFP/Getty Images

The European election results in Britain have left the country as divided as ever over Brexit and piled more pressure on the Conservative government as it tries to find a way forward under a new prime minister.

The nascent Brexit Party was the big winner of the election, taking 29 out of Britain’s 73 seats in the European Parliament. The party won nearly one-third of the popular vote and came first in every region in England and Wales outside of London.

The result was a huge victory for Nigel Farage, the Euroskeptic who founded the party in April as a protest movement over the government’s handling of Brexit. He has campaigned for Britain to leave the EU without an agreement and trade with the bloc under World Trade Organization (WTO) terms. “We’re not just here to leave the European Union but to try and fundamentally change the shape of British politics, bring it into the 21st century and get a Parliament that better reflects the country,” Mr. Farage told supporters late on Sunday. He added to reporters that the party now has a mandate to become involved in shaping the government’s Brexit strategy.

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2019 European Parliament

election results in Britain

Percentage of votes and seats in parliament

by national parties*

National parties

Seats

Percentage of votes

Brexit Party

29

31.69%

Liberal Democrats

16

18.53

Labour Party

10

14.08

Green Party 

7

11.1

Conserv./Union. Party

4

8.68

UK Indep. Party

0

3.56

Scottish Nat. Party

3

3.34

Change UK

0

2.92

 

Plaid Cymru (Wales)

 

1

1.73

Sinn Féin

1

0.63

 

Dem. Unionist Party

1

0.59

Alliance Party

1

0.5

Social Dem./Lab. Party

0

0.37

Trad. Unionist Voice

0

0.29

Ulster Unionist Party

0

0.25

 

Other parties Britain

0

 

1.69

Other parties N. Ire.

0

0.1

*As of 3:05 p.m. Central European time, Monday

JOHN SOPINSKI/the globe and mail

source: eurOpean parliament

2019 European Parliament

election results in Britain

Percentage of votes and seats in parliament

by national parties*

National parties

Seats

Percentage of votes

Brexit Party

29

31.69%

Liberal Democrats

16

18.53

Labour Party

10

14.08

Green Party 

7

11.1

Conserv./Union. Party

4

8.68

UK Indep. Party

0

3.56

Scottish Nat. Party

3

3.34

Change UK

0

2.92

 

Plaid Cymru (Wales)

 

1

1.73

Sinn Féin

1

0.63

 

Dem. Unionist Party

1

0.59

Alliance Party

1

0.5

Social Dem./Lab. Party

0

0.37

Trad. Unionist Voice

0

0.29

Ulster Unionist Party

0

0.25

 

Other parties Britain

 

0

1.69

Other parties N. Ire.

0

0.1

*As of 3:05 p.m. Central European time, Monday

JOHN SOPINSKI/the globe and mail

source: eurOpean parliament

2019 European Parliament election results in Britain

Percentage of votes and seats in parliament by national parties*

National parties

Seats

Percentage of votes

Brexit Party

29

31.69%

Liberal Democrats

16

18.53

Labour Party

10

14.08

Green Party 

7

11.1

Conserv./Unionist Party

4

8.68

UK Independence Party

0

3.56

Scottish National Party

3

3.34

Change UK

0

2.92

 

Plaid Cymru (Wales)

 

1

1.73

Sinn Féin

1

0.63

 

Dem. Unionist Party

1

0.59

Alliance Party

1

0.5

Social Dem. & Labour Party

0

0.37

Traditional Unionist Voice

0

0.29

Ulster Unionist Party

0

0.25

 

Other parties Britain

 

0

1.69

Other parties N. Ireland

0

0.1

*As of 3:05 p.m. Central European time, Monday

JOHN SOPINSKI/the globe and mail, source: eurOpean parliament

The rise of the Brexit Party has been a challenge for the ruling Conservatives, who had their worst showing in European elections in decades. The Tories won just four seats, down from 19 in the previous European vote in 2014, and saw their share of the popular vote drop to 9.1 per cent. The results come as the party launches a leadership race to find someone to succeed Prime Minister Theresa May, who announced on Friday that she will step down as leader on June 7. Ms. May had been dogged by complaints from fellow Tories for months that she couldn’t deliver Brexit and that a withdrawal agreement she struck with the EU was a sellout. She’d also lost party support after repeatedly seeking to extend the deadline for Britain to depart the EU. The new date is Oct. 31. The fact that Britain even participated in the European elections has infuriated many Tories because the country should have been out of the bloc by now. Many party members refused to campaign or backed the Brexit Party.

The leading candidates to replace Ms. May, who will remain Prime Minister until a new leader is chosen in July, come from the hard Brexit wing of the party and many are echoing Mr. Farage in raising the prospect of a no-deal Brexit. “I will fight for a fairer deal in Brussels … if not I will be clear, we will leave on WTO terms in October,” one leading contender, former Brexit minister Dominic Raab, told the BBC on Sunday. Former foreign secretary Boris Johnson, who is considered the front runner, has also indicated that he would back a no-deal departure. "If we go on like this, we will be fired: dismissed from the job of running the country,” Mr. Johnson warned Tories in a newspaper column on Monday. “We can and must deliver. No one sensible would aim exclusively for a no-deal outcome. No one responsible would take no-deal off the table.”

Mr. Johnson’s main rival is expected to be Environment Secretary Michael Gove who joined the race on Sunday. Mr. Gove co-chaired the Vote Leave campaign with Mr. Johnson ahead of the 2016 Brexit referendum and the two clashed in the last Tory leadership race in 2016. During that contest, Mr. Gove abruptly pulled his support for Mr. Johnson and then launched a rival campaign. Both eventually dropped out and Ms. May won by acclamation. Mr. Gove is considered a Brexit hardliner but he has supported Ms. May’s deal and on Sunday, he said reaching an agreement “is ultimately better for all of us.” On Monday, another senior cabinet minister, Home Secretary Sajid Javid, announced he was running for the leadership. Mr. Javid voted to remain in the EU in 2016 but now backs Brexit and said recently that there was nothing to fear from a no-deal exit.

Many voters viewed the election as a referendum on Brexit, and the overall result revealed deep divisions. The two hard-Brexit parties – the Brexit Party and the United Kingdom Independence Party – won 35 per cent of the popular vote and dominated England outside of London. The parties that favour remaining in the EU – the Liberal Democrats, Scottish Nationalists, Greens, Change UK and Plaid Cymru in Wales – took 40 per cent of the vote and did well in Scotland and London. Those geographic patterns largely reflected the 2016 referendum where Scotland and London voted overwhelmingly to remain in the EU and the rest of England voted to leave.

The Labour Party did almost as badly as the Conservatives. Both parties spent weeks trying to agree on a Brexit deal but ultimately failed. Labour finished third in the European vote behind the Brexit Party and the Liberal Democrats with 10 seats, a loss of 10 from the 2014 vote. “We went into an election where the most important issue was, ‘What was our view on leaving the European Union?’ and we were not clear about it,” Labour MP Emily Thornberry told the BBC.

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