Caroline Lucas has credited the Green party’s messages prioritising action on the climate crisis and rejecting Brexit with delivering its best result in decades as it pushed the Tories into fifth place in England and Wales.
The number of Green MEPs more than doubled from three to seven as its share of the vote increased by 4.6% to 12.5%. Its leadership said the strong showing by it and other anti-Brexit parties bolstered the case for a new referendum.
“Clearly people wanted to vote for the Green party because they know that we are a passionate remain party but it’s also the case that right at the top of our messaging we had responses to the accelerating climate crisis and that was the same both in the UK and right across Europe,” said Lucas, the party’s sole Westminster MP and former leader.
She cast the party’s success in the context of a Green wave sweeping across Europe, including Germany, where the Greens were on course to take second place. In Ireland, the party’s candidate Ciarán Cuffe topped the poll in the Dublin constituency and there was a surge in France by the Europe Ecologie-Les Verts party.
In Britain, the party won its first seats in the East, North West, West Midlands and Yorkshire and Humber regions as well as holding seats in London, the South East and the South West. It failed to make any significant gains in Scotland.
In London, where Scott Ainslie held the seat previously held for the party by Jean Lambert, the Greens built on longer-term support with a three-point increase in its vote to 12%.
Its new MEPs include Magid Magid in Yorkshire and the Humber, who came to the UK as a child refugee and whose election last year as the mayor of Sheffield gave him national prominence.
“Today is about a Green wave cascading through Europe & landing on the shores of Yorkshire for the first time,” tweeted the 29-year-old. “We’re just getting started. This’ll be more than a fleeting midsummer night’s dream in Brussels. We’re going to turn the tide of history!”
Other new Green MEPs joining him in the European parliament include Catherine Rowett, a professor of philosophy elected in the East, and Gina Dowding, a Lancashire councillor and anti-fracking campaigner who took a seat in the North West. Ellie Chowns, a veteran charity worker and lecturer in international development, took a seat in the West Midlands.
Siân Berry, the co-leader of the party, said: “Our message of ‘yes to Europe, no to climate change’ clearly resonated strongly with voters, many of whom will have been casting their vote for our party for the first time. We topped the poll in Bristol, Norwich and Brighton and Hove, and scored brilliant seconds in Sheffield, Cambridge and Oxford.”
“There is clear evidence from this of strong support for the UK remaining in the European Union, but also for tackling the causes of Brexit – the massive damage done to so many communities by austerity, tax-dodging and diminution of workers’ rights.”
Lucas told the Today programme that Nigel Farage was wrong to say the leave side had won the European election. “I don’t think that’s right. I think the Brexit party got about 35% of the vote and the strongly remain parties got about 40% of the vote,” she said.
“So either way you look at it, the Brexit party has got nothing like the 17 million they had before. The point is let’s just try and rule out the kind of terrifying vision for this country [that is] no deal. That literally should go.”