Liberal Democrats increase vote to come second Ukip, Conservatives and Labour suffer in the Borough poll.
The Brexit Party took the biggest share of the vote in Eastleigh in the European Elections and nationally Nigel Farage’s new anti-EU party have so far won 29 seats in the European Parliament – five more than he won he won as leader of Ukip in 2014.
The Liberal Democrats, who advocated a pro-EU ‘remain’ stance, made a 3,642 vote gain on their 2014 performance with a 23% swing while nationally they have so far returned 15 MEPs but it was a bad night for the Conservatives and Labour while Ukip saw a huge -92% drop in their 2014 vote as their supporters flocked to Farage’s new party. To add to Ukip’s local woes their counting agents turned up at the count sporting Brexit Party badges and T-Shirts including the Chair of the Eastleigh Ukip branch, Hugh McGuinness who told Eastleigh News he was now supporting the Brexit Party. McGuinness is the second Ukip Parish Councillor in the Borough to do so along with Cllr Andy Moore.A Brexit Party spokesperson told Eastleigh News that the Ukip party members were ‘nothing to do with the Brexit Party’ and held no official position within it.
The Conservatives had a disastrous night here in line with the National trend and they lost 6,000 votes to finish fourth behind the Green Party who added an extra 1,346 votes a 36% swing. Adding together votes from the ‘remain’ supporting parties together (Lib Dems, Greens, Change Uk = 16,188) against the Leave parties (Brexit, Conservative, Ukip = 17,850) shows a slight advantage to leave, narrower than the referendum result but the turnout of 36.6 % (down from 38.94% in 2014) is far smaller than the referendum turnout in 2016 of 78.2%.
End of two party system?
Like the Conservatives, the Labour Party also suffered in Eastleigh losing 2,082 voters – a -57% drop- showing that both the two traditional parties of government that are divided over Brexit have not convinced voters that they have a clear policy while breakaway remainers Change UK polled just 1,000 votes making the Lib Dems the largest remain supporting party in Eastleigh.
The night’s biggest winners: The Brexit Party, The Liberal Democrats, The Green Party. The night’s biggest losers Ukip, Conservatives, Labour.
The Brexit Party organiser for Hampshire, Malcolm Jones said
“It’s a great night for our party across our nation, we will continue to drive forward to deliver on the democratic vote and change the shape of British politics.”
The Leader of Eastleigh’s Conservative group Cllr Judith Grajewski thought the low turnout meant the vote was unrepresentative of how the public might vote in a General Election.
“The 36.6% turnout is too low to extrapolate how a general election might pan out. This has been a single issue election with lots of protest votes. In a general election people will be looking at the parties’ policies for the economy, education, social care, environmental issues and so on. They will be choosing an MP and a party that can deliver in all these areas for them and their families, not a one trick pony.”
Taking conservative and Labour votes out of the equation Eastleigh’s Lib Dem Leader Keith House said the combined vote of the remain parties had together outnumbered the leave vote and he called on Eastleigh’s MPs Mims Davies and Steve Brine to support a People’s vote.
The Conservatives and Labour have sent mixed messages with leading players backing both sides and don’t count as Leave or Remain: and it’s not surprising Eastleigh voters have rejected them both!
“The time is right for our MPs to listen to Eastleigh voters and back a People’s Vote or simply to revoke a Brexit that would cost Eastleigh jobs and make Eastleigh people poorer
Eastleigh Labour’s Josh Constable said the results were ‘very sad’ for his party.
“We know we always suffer when turnout is low, and tonight is no different. While these elections were certainly seen as a proxy referendum and protest vote, we cannot totally ignore these results as they remain a poor showing for our party.
“The fact that we’ve lost ground to parties without any policies other than to either stop or expedite Brexit shows how much this issue matters to the people of Eastleigh and the country. This has not however knocked our resolve, and we will continue to campaign harder in an effort to reach out to local people with our comprehensive message for real positive change in British politics and society.”