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Brexit: much effort for little result

2019-05-27 09:43:12

"Vote like it matters! Every vote counts", said Mr Juncker when he cast his vote yesterday in the European elections. But, of course, it doesn't matter. The whole damn process is a charade.

There is one interesting irony though. With 371 of 373 counts completed (at the time of writing) the Tories who, in 1999, took 36 seats, are down to three exactly the same number that Ukip gained in 1999 when they first won some seats. But the tables aren't exactly reversed. The Farage Party gets 28 MEPs, taking votes from the Tories and Labour.

From its peak of 23 seats in 2014, Ukip is down to zero, their seats effectively having been transferred to the Farage Party. But, despite the collapse of the Tory vote and savage trimming of Labour, which collectively have lost 23 seats compared with 2014, Farage has only picked up five seats.

Interestingly, the 18 gains making up the balance have gone to the Lib-Dems (up 14 from one) and the Greens (up four from three), which means that the unequivocally "remain" parties have made more gains than Farage.

Moreover, while the Farage Party took 5,244,893 votes, the combined votes of the Lib-Dems and Greens were 5,377,001. With Ukip polling 549,159 while Change UK gained 571,716 (without either getting any MEPs), that puts the remainers ahead of the leavers.

No doubt, there are endless ways of playing with the figures and there will be differing interpretations from the rival factions. Suffice it to say, though, that the great Farage "victory" seems to owe more to the voting system than it does the overall number of votes.

In fact, Farage seems to have under-performed on the day, taking 31.6 percent of the vote, compared with the 37 percent some of the opinion polls were giving him. The overall results, therefore, are ambiguous and settle nothing. Certainly, with less than a third of the vote, this is no mandate for a no-deal Brexit.

Nor can anything significant be taken from the turnout. This stands at 36.7 percent, up a mere 1.8 percent hardly any evidence of a national display of exuberance. In terms of the total electorate, that gives Farage less than 12 percent of the electorate. That isn't a mandate for anything.

As for the rest of Europe, the EPP seems to be in the lead on 179, having taken some losses. The Social Democrats who were expected by some to take the lead are trailing in second place with 150, while the Liberals pick up 107 MEPs. Nationalists have not fared as well as predicted, so the traditional core of the European Parliament keeps its majority. There should be no overwhelming problems when it comes to a choice of Commission president, or confirming the Commission.

So, for all the hype, nothing much changes here or abroad. Specifically, in the EU-27, there is no substantial move either for or against "Europe", but nothing which will threaten the status quo either. And so ends an enormous amount of effort with very little to show for it.

And the European Parliament still ain't democratic.