751 MEPs are elected to the European Parliament from across all member countries and elections are held every five years. The UK is taking part in these elections, today, in spite of the notification of the intention for the UK to leave the EU. Counting of the votes won’t take place until elections held by all EU countries have finished on Sunday 26 May.
Due to the delay in Brexit, and EU law, the UK has to take part in the elections for MEPs, although the elected candidates from the UK may not take their seats in the European Parliament it the UK were to leave the EU before the end of July (which is not looking likely).
Prior to the elections Nigel Farage announced that the Brexit Party, launched on 12 April 2019, will contest all the seats, apart from those in Northern Ireland. The Brexit Party was formed in response to the lack of progress by the Government in implementing the result of the EU Referendum held in 2016.
Surveys held in the run up to the elections consistently indicated massive support for the Brexit Party. There were also many indications that Conservative supporters, frustrated by the delay in leaving the EU, planned to vote in support of the Brexit Party.
In final polls the Brexit Party were showing support at an average of 32% – indicating a clear message that a large proportion of the public still want to see the UK out of the EU and may also show a lack of confidence in Theresa May and her Government being able to achieve that aim.
Although the Labour Party initially showed support at around 24% at the time of the local elections held on 6 May, polling shows falling support mainly because of the unclear and ambiguous message on Brexit presented by the party. Some polls place Labour in 3rd place, with support at 13%-15%, behind the Liberal Democrats who are polling strongly with their anti-Brexit stance.
The Conservative Party are likely to finish in fourth place depending on whether there is a surge in support for the Green Party.
Support for the Change UK Party is not showing much traction (around 1%-2%) and it will be interesting to see if the new party survives in the longer term – does this mean a merger with the Liberal Democrats? and UKIP is likely to lose support as their followers migrate towards the Brexit party.
Although the major parties are hoping that electors will vote based on topics other than Brexit, it is likely that the election will be treated as a protest vote indicating support for either remaining or leaving the EU. In some respects, the election is meaningless and a waste of time, money and effort if the UK were to leave the EU during the next session of the EU Parliament. It is also possible the the UK representation to the Parliament will be strongly anti-EU – although with a total of 751 MEPs in the Parliament, somewhat ineffective.
European elections in the UK use a form of proportional representation to elect MEPs, with 73 seats available spread across regions in the UK.
|Region||Number of seats|
|East of England||7|
|Yorkshire and the Humber||6|
Electors vote on the basis of a political party rather than individuals as in Local and General elections. In England, Scotland and Wales, seats are awarded according to the share of the vote for the party. A list of candidates is put forward in ranked order by each party and MEPs are selected from these lists.
In England, Scotland and Wales the voting system for the European elections is the d’Hondt system of proportional representation – regional closed list. In Northern Ireland the system is Single Transferable Vote.
Read more about the mechanism at