Britain’s two main parties, the Conservatives and Labour, were reeling from a historic defeat by a marginal far-right party as the results of the recently held European Union elections poured in on Monday.
The anti-immigration and Eurosceptic UK Independence Party (UKIP) led by Nigel Farage bagged 27.5 per cent of the vote share, resulting in 23 of its members being elected in the European Parliament (MEPs).
While Scotland results remain pending, Labour was on 25 per cent and seemed to be narrowly beating the ruling Tories into second place while coalition partners, the Liberal Democrats or Lib Dems lost all but one of their seats and came behind the Green Party.
“My dream has become a reality. The British people have stood firm, they have backed UKIP and we have won a national election,” Farage told the BBC.
“The penny’s really dropped that as members of this union we cannot run our own country and crucially, we cannot control our own borders,” he said in his victory speech.
The results are being seen as a stark warning to Britain’s established political parties after the UKIP nearly doubled its vote share compared to the last European elections in 2009, when it came second to the Tories with 13 seats.
Prime Minister David Cameron, however, insisted the Conservatives can win the next general election in 2015 despite being pushed into third place in the European polls.
He said he appreciated people were “disillusioned” with the EU and he “absolutely understood and received the message” and stressed that only Conservatives have offered a referendum on UK membership of the union.
“I take a very clear message from the election. People are deeply disillusioned with the EU. They don’t feel the current
arrangements are working well enough for Britain and they want change. I would say that message is absolutely received and
understood,” he said.
Lib Dems leader and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, meanwhile, is facing calls to stand down as his party ended up with a sole MEP.
Across the English Channel, another far right anti-EU party, the National Front topped the poll in France, according to exit polls.
Anti-EU parties from the left and right are expected to gain significant numbers of MEPs across all 28 member states in the wake of the eurozone crisis and severe financial squeeze.
But pro-EU parties are still expected to hold the majority in the European Parliament.