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Ukip rocks politics with seismic shift

By Western Daily Press  |  Posted: May 27, 2014

By Philippa Jenkins

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The Ukip leader Nigel Farage was in defiant mood as he took to the stand shortly after downing a swift pint in a Westminster pub

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Political history has been made in more ways than one in the South West following the European Parliament elections with both the UK Independence Party's success on a national scale as well as more women politicians being voted in than men regionally.

The political make-up of the EU has been shaken just a year before the country's general election causing the spotlight to be shone on all party leaders and their successful candidates as the counts were announced from Sunday night through to yesterday.

The South West's six MEPs are now William Dartmouth (Ukip), Julia Reid (Ukip), Ashley Fox (Con), Julie Girling (Con), Clare Moody (Lab) and Molly Scott Cato (Green).

The Greens have their first ever MEP in the South West and Labour has picked up one it lost five years ago while the Lib Dems have lost their one MEP, Sir Graham Watson, and the Conservatives are also down one.

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Across the South West, Ukip got 484,184 votes (32 per cent), Conservatives 433,151 (29 per cent), Labour 206,124 (14 per cent), Green Party 166,447 (11 per cent) and the Lib Dems 160,376 (11 per cent).

At the South West count in Poole, Dorset, the Earl of Dartmouth hit out against the "barrage" of attacks from the "mainstream media".

Mr Fox said the Conservatives were "the only party" able to deliver an EU referendum, and Labour's Ms Moody said their votes reflected the "economic pain" being felt across the South West.

Ms Scott Cato said she would forge strong relations with green groups across Europe and Sir Graham said the Lib Dems "will be back".

Ukip won in 24 of the 38 areas, including in Cornwall, Torbay, North Devon, and the Scillies.

After all 11 regional constituencies across the UK had declared their results, Ukip has 24 MEPs and a 27.49 per cent share of the vote.

Labour has 20 MEPs and a 25.40 per cent vote share, the Tories had 19 MEPs and a 23.93 per cent vote share, the Greens three MEPs and a 7.87 per cent share while the Lib Dems managed a solitary MEP and 6.87 per cent of the vote.

The Lib Dems won 11 MEPs in 2009, but were left with just a single representative after this year's election.

The party were completely wiped out in the South West, their traditional stronghold.

The most high-profile casualty, Sir Graham Watson, who first won a seat on the European Parliament in 1994, failed to be re-elected for the region.

Wiltshire and Bristol were one of the few areas where Ukip did not come out on top.

The anti-EU party received 40,951 Wiltshire votes, coming second to the Conservatives who gained 46,306.

Labour came top in Bristol with 30,517 votes; Ukip second (25,700); Green Party third (21,916); Conservative fourth (21,105); Liberal Democrats fifth (11,216).

Following Ukip's huge successes the party's leader Nigel Farage has claimed it hasachieved the "most extraordinary result in British politics for 100 years".

He said: "My dream has become a reality. The British people have stood firm, they have backed Ukip and we have won a national election.

"Everyone keeps saying it's the high tide mark for Ukip. I think the party has got real momentum behind it.

"The plan is to get a good number of Ukip MPs elected next year."

But David Cameron said the message from the EU elections had been heard loud and clear.

He said: "People are deeply disillusioned with the European Union.

"They do not think the current relationships are working well enough for Britain.

"They want change and as far as I am concerned that message is completely received and understood."

He added only the Conservatives were offering the realistic prospect of an in-out referendum, after renegotiating links with the EU.

The Liberal Deomcrat's leader and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg came under fire after the party's poor performance.

He admitted the results were "gutting and heartbreaking" but defended his position and said he would not resign before the general election.

He said: "If I thought any of our real dilemmas would be addressed by changing leadership, changing strategy, changing approaches, bailing out now, changing direction, then I wouldn't hesitate advocating it. Absolutely not.

"We have our work cut out. I know that as much as anyone else."

Mr Clegg said Nigel Farage had ''every right'' to be pleased with his party's performance.

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