This Is What The Brexit Party European Election Victory Could Actually Mean For The UK

Chris York

As Westminster implodes over Brexit, one man is having a jolly old time – Nigel Farage.

Assuming those polled follow through and vote, his newly-formed Brexit Party is set to romp to victory in the European elections today and suddenly find itself with around 30 shiny new MEPs.

(UPDATE: The Brexit Party did indeed romp to victory, taking almost a third of the vote and routing the Conservatives – full story here)

So how did a party formed just two months ago achieve this and what happens if they win? Well, HuffPost UK has the answers for you.

How have they risen so fast?

European elections often pass the British public by and interest and turnout has historically been low (around 35% compared to around 70% for general elections).

But 2019 is different – this time around the election has effectively become a second vote on Brexit.

The Tory deadlock in parliament and Labour’s difficulties in forming a coherent stance have left voters frustrated with the main parties and new groups like the Brexit Party (appeals to Leave voters) and Change UK (has tried to appeal to Remain voters) have provided an alternative.

According to party leadership, more than 100,000 people have become registered to become members in the past six weeks.

As for Change UK, well, that’s not been quite as successful.

What will change if they win?

Assuming the latest poll results come to fruition, Theresa May/Theresa May’s interim replacement will still be PM and Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour party will still be Her Maj’s opposition.

So what difference will a Brexit Party victory make, given its only stated goal so far is to leave the EU without a deal?

Farage has already said the Brexit Party will demand to have places on the EU negotiating team if they come top, telling a packed rally in Kensington this week, he said if his party tops the polls, the “must join”.

Unfortunately for Farage, this almost certainly won’t happen.

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Tim Bale, politics professor at the Queen Mary University of London, told HuffPost UK: “It is a complete and utter non-starter. It will be frankly unconstitutional for a party with no MPs and not in government to be involved in a state to state negotiation.

“But it’s an effective soundbite.”

There obviously will be advantages for the Brexit Party although, it may be more accurate to say there will advantages for Nigel Farage.

“It will also of course give Nigel Farage an awful lot of legitimacy,” says Professor Bale.

“He will be able to say as he did in 2014, that the political organisation he’s leading has not just done well in opinion polls but actually in the opinion poll that matters, ie an election.

“That means that he will be taken even more seriously than he already is by broadcasters.”

So yes, expect to see a lot more Farage on your telly set.

One happy chappy.

What does it mean for Labour and the Tories?

Well, it’s a little embarrassing to say the least.

(UPDATE: It was indeed embarrassing. Very embarrassing. The Tories are on course for their worst ever national election share, having dropped to just 9% of the vote in England and Wales, and Labour Remain supporters appear to have registered their anger by flocking to the Lib Dems and Greens – full story here)

Farage has boldly claimed that wins for the Brexit Party could claim the scalps of the Labour and Tory leaders, saying last week: “We will quickly get rid of the worst prime minister in the history of our nation.

“You never know, given the way we are smashing the Labour vote in Wales and the Midlands, a big Brexit win might get rid of Jeremy Corbyn as well.”

This might be stretching it a little – for the Conservatives it’s just yet another headache as they grapple with a PM who just won’t budge and a rank and file doing their best to budge her, regardless of the results of today’s election.

But it could impact the Tory stance on a no-deal Brexit. 

“For the Conservative Party, they are in such a panic mode at the moment that they are likely to chase the Brexit Party down the even harder Brexit path,” says Professor Bale

“In other words what they will try to do is try and prevent Farage from stealing all their voters in the long term by moving towards the vision the Brexit Party has on the EU.”

The picture for Labour is more mixed and Corbyn may actually be more worried about losing out badly to the Lib Dems as this will give a boost to Labour MPs calling for a Peoples Vote, something Corbyn has so far resisted.

(UPDATE: A sitting Labour MEP has blasted his party’s “high command” for having “squandered” the chances of victory at the European elections – full story here)

Labour has struggled to form a coherent message on Europe.

Will Nigel Farage become PM?

No. Well, not right away anyway.

“The prospect of Farage becoming prime minister is extremely unlikely. Never say never but to turn what is effectively a protest vehicle into an all-singing, all-dancing party that people feel is ready for government is a very difficult thing to do,” says Professor Bale.

“At the moment he is in the enviable position of running a party onto which people can project almost anything they like but when it comes to a Westminster election it would have to choose some policies which at that point, would begin to alienate people.”

The Brexit Party has said it does not plan to publish a manifesto until after the European election but the Led By Donkeys campaign has helpfully been reminding the British public about where Farage stands on issues such as the NHS.

(UPDATE: Farage this morning made clear his intention to run in the next General Election so presumably that manifesto is on its way...)

Will Boris Johnson become PM?

On the face of it this might seem a daft question – BoJo isn’t even in the Brexit Party, but a Farage victory could in fact help him.

“It also mean they’re likely to try and elect someone who has as much charisma and pulling power as Nigel Farage which makes it more likely they’ll go for Boris Johnson,” says Professor Bale.

And he’s already the favourite... 

Are there any possible spoilers in the works for Farage?

Yes, two in fact and they’re both money-related.

Questions have been raised about the Brexit Party’s funding and the Electoral Commission (EC) this week paid a visit to its headquarters.

Donations are paid online through PayPal, an online payment system does not track where the cash comes from, despite donations of more than £500 having to come from the UK.  

Former Labour PM Gordon Brown said this week Farage had “history” with the Leave.EU campaign alongside tycoon donor Arron Banks, who Brown said had “made contacts with Russia”.

In response, Farage claimed the regulator was staffed by “establishment figures” and was “not a neutral organisation”, earning himself a reprimand from the EC.

Away from the Brexit Party, Farage is to be investigated by the EU for allegedly failing to declare nearly half a million pounds in expenses funded by Arron Banks in the year after the EU referendum.

Last week a Channel 4 News investigation claimed Banks, a millionaire insurance tycoon and close associate of Farage, paid for the former UKIPleader’s lavish lifestyle the year after the EU referendum

This included: the lease a £4.4million, three-bedroom home in London’s upmarket Chelsea area; a Land Rover Discovery car valued at £32,300; and a close protection driver at a cost of £20,000.

(Infographic supplied by Statista)