Live Blog: Wales’ EU Parliament Elections 2019

Mark Drakeford. Picture by Christopher Jones / Alamy Stock Photo. Adam Price. Credit: Euan Cherry/WENN. Welsh Liberal Democrats leader Jane Dodds. Picture by Keith Edkins (CC BY-SA 4.0). Mark Reckless. PjrNews / Alamy Stock Photo

12.10am: That’s it! There are still a few results coming in around the UK, but everything has been one and dusted in Wales, and at a reasonable hour.

Perhaps we should do all elections like this?

Despite the result being historic, it all went exactly as expected in Wales, with two seats for the Brexit Party, and one each for Plaid Cymru in 2nd place, and Labour narrowly beating the Lib Dems for 3rd.

In the long-run, the stalemate between Brexit and Remain continues, Plaid Cymru have gained momentum for their bid to win the Assembly in 2021, and the Labour party will be left scratching their heads trying to figure out how to solve the conundrum of losing votes to both sides of the political divide.

The one thing for certain is that the next few months are going to be very interesting ones, politically, in Wales. We hope you continue to turn to Nation.Cymru for the latest.

12.01am: Leader of the Welsh Conservatives Paul Davies on the election result: “These results are extremely disappointing for our hard-working candidates and the party must now reflect long and hard on them.

“Here in Wales, Welsh Conservatives will continue their hard work in the National Assembly holding the Welsh Government to account, and will welcome a healthy campaign in the run-up to the next Assembly elections in 2021.”

Is that as opposed to the unhealthy campaign the party ran this time?

11.57pm: Minister for International Relations and the Welsh Language Eluned Morgan has called for a “rethink” of Labour’s Brexit policy. Will First Minister Mark Drakeford be receptive?

11.55pm: As well as the rise of the far-right and emergence of the Greens, another developing story across the EU tonight is that the far-left parties are having a tough time. Corbyn’s Labour, Podemos in Spain, Syriza in Greece, and Jean-Luc Melenchon’s new La France Insoumise are having a difficult night.

11.49pm: Plaid Cymru leader Adam Price has asked those who voted Plaid Cymru for the first time to “stick with us so that we can build a new Wales in a new Europe together”.

“It must also be said tonight that the so-called Brexit Party do not care for the interests of Wales. Plaid Cymru is ready to take them on and defend the Welsh national interest.”

11.47pm: Welsh Liberal Democrats leader Jane Dodds has hailed their “best ever” European election results.

“Poll after poll has repeatedly shown that the Welsh people want to be given an exit from Brexit,” she says.

“Labour and Conservatives must take a long, hard look at these disastrous results.”

11.40pm: Former Welsh Conservatives leader Andrew RT Davies says that the “saddest thing of all is that we didn’t even try during this election. When you run from the electorate it’s no wonder they look elsewhere.”

11.28pm: Here are the final percentages:

BXP: 32.5%

PC: 19.6%

Lab: 15.3%

Libs: 13.6%

Conservatives: 6.5%

Greens: 6.3%

UKIP: 3.3%

CHUK: 2.9%

And this is what I predicted at the start of this Live Blog:

BXP: 34%

PC: 20%

Lab: 17%

Libs: 12%

Green: 6%

Con: 7%

UKIP: 2%

CHUK: 2%

More people voted UKIP and Change UK than I thought would do so, given that the Brexit Party and the Lib Dems seemed like a more impactful alternative. The Lib Dems did slightly better than I expected and Labour slightly worse. The Brexit Party underperformed their polls by more than the margin of error.

11.27pm: It is confirmed that the Brexit Party got two seats in Wales, Plaid Cymru one and Labour one.

11.25pm: The final tallies for Remain v Leave in Wales don’t really solve much:

Remain – 354,805 – 42.4%

Leave – 353,557 – 42.3%

Who knows? – 127,833 – 15.3%

11.17pm: It looks like the Brexit Party got around 32% of the vote in Wales, which is a bit less than than the upper-30s that the polls were suggesting.

Plaid Cymru got around 19% which is exactly what the polls were predicting.

11.08pm: 836,195 voted in Wales, compared with 733,060 in 2014.

UKIP’s leader Gerard Batten has lost his seat, so there will be at least two leadership elections in UK politics over the net few weeks.

11.00pm: We discussed the need for clear red water between Welsh and UK Labour earlier, and former Cabinet member Alun Davies seems to agree:

“An entirely predictable disaster. Time for Welsh Labour and the First Minister to accept that we need an approach rooted in our values. And not simply shadowing Corbyn. Time for more clear red water.”

10.55pm: Across Wales, Brexit Party on two seats, Plaid Cymru on one and Labour take the last one.

Brexit Party – 271,404

Plaid Cymru – 163,928

Labour – 127,833

Lib Dems – 113,885

Change UK – 24,332

Conservative – 54,587

Greens – 52,660

UKIP – 27,566

10.52pm: As in Ynys Môn it’s a stonking result for Plaid Cymru in Gwynedd. Worrying for Labour as they’re the main challengers in the Caernarfon-Bangor area that makes up the marginal Aron constituency, and need to pick up such tight constituencies to put Jeremy Corbyn in Downing Street.

Change UK – 513

Conservative – 1,335

Greens – 1,826

Labour – 2,761

Lib Dems – 2,244

Plaid Cymru – 18,009

Brexit Party – 7,886

UKIP – 866

10.51pm: Merthyr Tydfil, the last seat in Wales, is in so we should have the final results for you very shortly.

Change UK – 481

Conservative – 373

Greens – 390

Labour – 3,235

Lib Dems – 1,090

Plaid Cymru – 2,023

Brexit Party – 4,407

UKIP – 611

10.50pm: The EU Elections are setting off little political earthquakes all over the continent. Syriza’s left-wing Prime Minister has called a snap general election after losing the election to the centre-right New Democracy opposition.

10.45pm: Meanwhile there are no positives for the Conservatives. They’ve come third in Monmouthshire, behind the Brexit Party and Lib Dems – a seat which they have held at Westminster for 79 of the last 100 years.

10.40pm: Plaid will be rightly celebrating coming second but it’s worth noting that in many of the kind of seats they need to win to form the next Welsh Assembly government in their own right, such as Torfaen, Caerphilly, and Blaenau Gwent, they still lost out to Labour despite all their problems.

They actually came fourth after the Lib Dems in Torfaen.

Winning Wales-wide contests is one thing, but the next Senedd election won’t be a Wales-wide contest – 40 of the seats are FPTP and they need to win another 10-15 to stand a change of leading in government.

10.35pm: Blaenau Gwent is very interesting. You would perhaps expect the Brexit Party to be doing better here, at the heart of Leave country. They got 39% of the vote.

On this basis, I think they might do slightly worse than the 36% predicted for them in the final YouGov polls.

Change UK – 475
Con – 454
Green – 646
Lab – 3,679
Lib Dem – 1,058
Plaid – 2,072
Brexit Party – 5,995
UKIP – 806

10.30pm: Wow, look at Ynys Môn. This is a seat that Labour hold in Westminster and Plaid Cymru hold at the Assembly, and Plaid Cymru have trounced them there.

Change UK – 382

Conservative – 1,157

Greens – 941

Labour – 1,890

Lib Dems – 1,603

Plaid Cymru – 7,144

Brexit Party – 6,791

UKIP – 668

10.25pm: In Newport, the Brexit party gets 35% of the vote. Again, these are quite solid Leave seats so they don’t look like hitting the 40%. Newport is a very weak area for Plaid Cymru so I wouldn’t read much into them coming fourth.

Change UK: 1,065

Conservative: 2,754

Green: 2,172

Labour: 6,934

Lib Dem: 4,821

Plaid: 3,277

Brexit Party: 12,270

Ukip: 1,200

10.16pm: Results arrive from Pembrokeshire first, which is apt since that’s where the final tally is being counted:

Change UK 868

Con 3,615

Green 2,543

Labour 4,036

Lib Dem 4,408

Plaid 5,631

Brexit Party 13,768

UKIP 1,222

That’s 38% of the vote for the Brexit Party, which is reasonable for them in a strongly conservative seat, and points at a result somewhere in the mid to low 30s across Wales.

10.15pm: Roger Scully is calling it – Plaid Cymru have beaten Labour.

“What implications will that have for the Assembly Wales election in 2021 – now that they, and voters, know that they *can* beat Labour in Wales?”

I feel that it’s worth noting that this win was more to do with Labour’s vote falling than Plaid’s vote going up. It’s bound to be good for Plaid Cymru’s morale however and shows that the old adage that a donkey wearing a Labour rosette would win in Wales is no longer true – voters are now more politically promiscuous.

10.10pm: The Liberal Democrats are briefing that the fourth seat in Wales may be out of their grasp, so Labour’s suggestions that they could lose their one MEP were probably, as I suggested, expectation management. The night is young, however.

The Liberal Democrats seem to be having a very good night elsewhere, especially London where they are telling journalists that they are trouncing Labour.

10.05pm: Interesting point by Matthew Goodwin:

“Piketty talked of centre-left abandoning traditional blue-collar left for middle-class Brahmin left. But Labour could lose both tonight.”

In other words, by trying not to offend their Leave and Remain voters, Labour have driven both into the arms of other parties.

10.00pm: Guido Fawkes blogger Tom Harwood has published some estimates from counts in Cardiff and Denbighshire. They are:

Cardiff

Brexit Party: 31%

LD: 23%

Plaid: 21%

Lab: 10%

Cons: 6%

Greens 5%

Ukip: 2%

Change UK 2%

Denbighshire

Brexit 34%

Plaid 19%

LD 13%

Lab 11%

Con 9%

UKIP 6%

Green 4%

Change UK 3%

Those look solid for Plaid Cymru in counties where they aren’t particularly strong. It’s also good news for the Liberal Democrats and bad news for Labour, but the latter should do better in seats across the rest of south-east Wales meaning that the fourth seat should still be in their grasp. That’s quite a good result for the Brexit Party in Cardiff too, which makes me think they could hit the upper 30s across Wales.

Muted by the Greens, and abysmal for the Conservatives.

9.45pm: More portents of doom for Welsh Labour, this time by ITV reporter Siôn Jenkins:

“Last week, I was chatting to a senior Welsh Labour figure who was telling me how grim things were looking for the party. I’ve just spoken to that same person who has said it’s looking even worse than they’d imagined.”

It’s worth remembering that this may well just be expectation management though, so that when Labour does come an unprecedented third it can be spun as a victory because they didn’t come fourth. I’m not sure I’m falling for it.

9.38pm: Election Maps UK is also predicting two seats for the Brexit Party, one for Plaid Cymru and one for Labour in Wales. But if what we’re hearing about the Labour vote is correct it could be squeaky bum time between them and the Liberal Democrats.

9.35pm: Let’s take a step back and look at the European Parliament as a whole. Although Wales is clearly the most important country in the EU, we must remember that it is but part of a greater whole.

All the parties standing in Wales are part of larger EU Groups in Brussels and Strasbourg. What we expect to see tonight is for the two largest of these groups  – S&D and EPP, essentially the EU Parliament’s equivalent of Labour and the Conservatives – shrinking, probably to less than 50% of the total seats for the first time.

We also expect the see the right-wing EFDD and far-right ENF expand somewhat.

Meanwhile, ALDE (Liberals) and Green-EFA (Greens and regional parties such as Plaid Cymru and the SNP) will expand their seat count slightly.

9.15pm: British broadcasters are still under restrictions about what they can say on the topic of the EU Elections until the polls close across Europe at 10pm tonight. This rule is surely something of an anachronism in the age of social media, but rules are rules. It does mean however that we can expect something of a splurge of three days’ worth of intelligence gathering when 10pm does arrive and their journalists are finally let loose.

9.05pm: This is very interesting by Owain Phillips of ITV Wales.

“Labour faces now looking increasingly worried – one suggestion that Labour could be as low as 4th in Cardiff.”

Turnout was up 10% in Cardiff, and it is Wales’ largest county, so it could play a big part in the final result and whether Labour, or the Liberal Democrats, wrangle that last MEP.

Meanwhile, Lewis Goodall of Sky News has the following to say:

“Hearing from a source in Wales, voter sampling suggests that Labour, a party which has won every national election in Wales bar one for a century, might well come fourth tonight.”

9pm: Daran Hill, Managing Director at Positif public affairs consultancy, has a punt at the result in Wales:

BXP: 36%

PC: 25%

Lab: 15%

My earlier guess was:

BXP: 34%

PC: 20%

Lab: 17%

We’ll see who is right at about 12pm!

8.55pm: In Poland, the ruling far-right Law & Justice party appears to have beaten the pro-European Coalition set up to oppose them for this election, by 42.4% to 39.1% of the vote. More evidence that the far-right are tightening their grip on the country.

In Hungary too, Viktor Orbán’s right-wing populist Fidesz – Hungarian Civic Alliance have won 53% of the vote. There are real questions about past elections being free and fair in this country.

8.48pm: More Wales-relevant news on the Green front. Wales’ star psephologist Professor Roger Scully suggests the Conservatives could finish sixth, which probably means they could come in behind the Greens.

He also suggests Labour could come in third, as was expected.

8.45pm: While all the focus has been on the far-right we may be missing the big story of the night – the Greens! While not expected to win a seat in Wales, they sit in the same EU Group as Plaid Cymru (Greens/EFA) who are. They’re expected to win 23% of the vote in Ireland (up from 1.2% last time) and win their first seat in Portugal.

8.40pm: More bad news for Labour in London. A source tells Political Home that they have been “smashed” in Islington. Which is, of course, Jeremy Corbyn’s own constituency. That’s going to hit close to home.

8.35pm: Back to Wales. Nothing coming from the counts seems to contradict the expectation that there will be two seats for the Brexit Party, one for Plaid Cymru and the other a contest between the Liberal Democrats and those up-and-comers, Labour.

8.30pm: Spain’s exit poll suggests that Catalonia’s president-in-exile Carles Puigdemont and Vice-president-in-jail Oriol Junqueras will become Members of the European Parliament.

Elsewhere, Spain seems to be bucking the trend for far-right populist movements across the rest of the EU.

The Socialists are on track for 28% and 18 seats (+4), while the centre-right PP are 17%, 11 seats (-5), Liberal Ciudadanos on 16% (9 seats), Podemos on 12% (7 seats) and the far-right Vox on 6.5% (4 seats).

8.25pm: One interesting thing about the Britain Elects projection is that the Brexit Party would win exactly the same number of seats as UKIP had in 2014, which is 24.

That might be a disappointment for Farage after going to the trouble of creating a whole new party.

They would, however, be up on UKIP’s one seat in Wales in 2014, with the Conservatives losing theirs.

As things stand the story of this election across the UK might well be 10% of the Conservative vote going to the Brexit Party and Labour losing some ground to the Liberal Democrats in England and Plaid Cymru in Wales.

8.15pm: Speaking of turnout, Harry Thompson has plotted the Welsh councils and found that those with the higher Remain vote also tend to be those with the highest turnout. I’m not sure if there are enough data points for a statistically significant result, however, but it seems to be a pattern repeated across the UK.

8.10pm: Under two hours now until the councils start reporting back to the National Counting Centre in Pembrokeshire. I’d expect some of the more compact councils with the lowest turnout, such as Merthyr Tydfil, to report first, and then Cardiff to keep us waiting as they always do in Westminster and Welsh elections. While the Brexit Party are expected to win the election in Wales quite comfortably, it wouldn’t be surprising to see the results become slightly less Brexity as the night goes on as the larger urban areas are perhaps more likely to swing for Remain parties.

8pm: Journalists are reporting that the Lib Dem surge is ‘looking good’ in London, even in areas that are strongly Labour in Westminster Elections. Labour got 36.7% of vote in London in 2014, but a poll had the Lib Dems beating them into second place this time. London has eight seats so has been hotly contested.

7.55pm: Could Change UK win MEPs tonight? Not in Wales, where they are expected to be far off with 2-5% of the vote. In London and the South East of England, they could sneak in with a single MEP in both regions.

The party launched offering a centrist alternative at a time where it seemed the Liberal Democrats hadn’t been forgiven for their coalition with the Conservatives at Westminster. Then the England local elections happened and the Lib Dems re-emerged as a genuine alternative for Remain voters. No wonder an alliance between the parties is now being mooted.

7.50pm: It will also be interesting to see what influence this election has on the ebb and flow of the ‘clear red water’ between Welsh and UK Labour. Drakeford has made it clear that he is Corbyn’s man. And beyond its bilingual content, the Welsh Labour election literature could have come straight out of Labour’s London HQ, in contrast with the Carwyn Jones and Rhodri Morgan strategy of emphasising the ‘Welsh’ in Welsh Labour.

If Labour comes third or – potentially – fourth in Wales tonight, Mark Drakeford could be under no little pressure to change tack.

7.45pm: What political influence will this election have? In Wales, as across the UK, it’s likely that a strong Plaid/Lib Dem/Green showing will be used to put real pressure on Labour to back a People’s Vote at Westminster.

On the other side of the equation, the expected Brexit Party blowout is likely to put pressure of the PM contenders in the Conservative party to tack further to the right and promise that the EU will be sorted one way or the other – even if that means a No Deal Brexit.

In short then, an even more polarised Westminster with less room for compromise than ever.

7.25pm: Britain Elects has published its final projection. In Wales, as expected, the Brexit Party is on two seats, while Plaid Cymru and Labour have one each. That’s definitely what the polls have been telling us.

Across the UK, the Conservatives lose nine seats and remain on 10, which might be better than they were expecting.

7.21pm: The populist far-right aren’t just winning European elections here in Wales. Marine Le Pen’s right-wing party Rassemblement National (National Rally) will win in France with 24% of votes, according to projections.

That’s about how much they got in 2014, too.

7.20pm: So, what are your predictions for vote in Wales? Please leave them in the comments below.

I’m going to put my head on the block and go for (drumroll):

BXP: 34%

PC: 20%

Lab: 17%

Libs: 12%

Green: 6%

Con: 7%

UKIP: 2%

CHUK: 2%

If I’m completely out, feel free to remind me later!

7.15pm: Conservative Brexiteer MEP Daniel Hannan predicts a total wipe-out for the Conservatives at today’s elections.

“So this is what annihilation feels like,” Hannan said in an op-ed published by The Telegraph. “I can tell you now that the Conservatives have been wiped out. I don’t expect to hold my seat; and, if I have lost then so, on a uniform swing, has every Tory MEP.”

They are expected to lose their one MEP in Wales.

7.05pm: Sime more political trivia, but on a UK level. If the Conservative get under 15.7% of the vote today it will be the lowest share of the vote by party governing at Westminster at EU Elections (beating Gordon Brown’s record in the 2009 EU Elections). 23.1% (2014 EU Elections) is the worst previous Conservative score.

If the Brexit Party hit over 33.5% it will be the biggest EU Election win by any UK Party in the Proportional Representation era, since William Hague’s Conservative win in 1999. Labour hasn’t won in an EU election across the UK since 1994.

7pm: Some interesting historical tidbits for you by Adam Evans on Twitter. The last time Labour came third in an election in Wales was December 1910. The last time they polled under 15% was January 1910. If the Conservatives poll under 10% it would be their lowest share of the vote in Wales, ever. Records could be broken tonight. Will they?

6.45pm: The Liberal Democrats have had a very good campaign, building on the momentum gained during the English local election results to steal Change UK’s momentum and posit themselves as the party for the Remain vote in many parts of the UK.

It’s unclear however if that momentum will be matched in Wales, where Plaid Cymru’s polling advantage has seen them muscle out the Lib Dems as the leading Remain party.

Wales used to be a liberal fortress in the late 19th and early 20th century. But the Liberal Democrats lost all their MPs in the last two elections, only have one AM left, and have never elected an MEP here.

Could this be the start of a comeback for them?

Beating Labour into fourth place would be a good start. The 9.86% turnout increase in the huge Cardiff constituency could suggest that Remain voters have turned out to vote, at least.

6.35pm: Whatever happens this looks like being a disappointing election for Labour. The latest polls put them on 15% and a polarised electorate seems to be punishing them for their muddled policy on Brexit in an election that has been seen as a de facto second referendum.

Don’t count out Labour though – they have won every single election in Wales apart from one (the 2009 EU Elections) for 100 years and won’t easily settle for third place.

It’s also not clear whether doing badly today will have any real impact on their appeal in the next Assembly and Westminster elections, when Brexit might not be the number one issue.

A bad result today might also force the party leadership – in Wales and the UK – to take a firmer stance on Brexit one way or the other, something Deputy Leader Tom Watson has already been lobbying for.

Could a bad result today be a sign that they’re loosening their grip on Wales or just some choppy waters in an election that matters little and in which people can safely register a protest vote?

Who knows.

6.30pm: Cai Larsen on his Welsh language blog Blogmenai is predicting, based on some insider knowledge about vote validation and a bit of guesswork, that Plaid Cymru will come in second place tonight. I’ve heard similar whispers but with simultaneous counts in so many locations I can’t imagine that anyone has the full picture.

6.25pm: Could Plaid Cymru beat Labour for the first time in an all-Wales election? The final two YouGov polls suggested they could, with Plaid Cymru on 19% and Labour on 15%. It also felt as if Plaid Cymru had ‘the big mo’ during the final week of the campaign, although such a property is objectively hard to quantify.

Turnout seems to be up slightly in seats that favour Plaid Cymru, such as Gwynedd (8%) and Carmarthenshire (5.7%) but it’s not clear how much of an impact that could make.

Under new leader Adam Price they will want to be moving beyond that 20% barrier, something they have failed to do since 1999. Anything under 18% will probably be a disappointment for them.

6.15pm: It’s hard to see past a Brexit Party win today, but how big will that win be? They polled at 36% in the final poll on the Monday before the vote. But they were gaining momentum at some speed so it would not be entirely surprising to see them reach the 40% mark. UKIP similarly overperformed their polls in Wales in the 2014 EU Election.

On the other hand, there is some evidence of sluggish turnout in Welsh counties that voted Leave in the EU Referendum in 2016, so it’s wouldn’t really be a surprise if they ended up in the lower 30s either. Whatever happens, they are very likely to win two of the four seats on offer in Wales.

6.10pm: Remember that if you have any political intelligence you can @ or DM us on Twitter, message us on Facebook, or email on ifan.morgan.jones@nation.cymru, anonymously or not.

6pm: Welcome to the Nation.Cymru Wales EU Parliament Elections 2019!

It’s Nation.Cymru’s birthday! We launched two years ago today, just as Theresa May announced the 2017 General Election. She was at the height of her power then, now she’s just announced her resignation. Which proves that two years is a long time in politics.

A few hours can be a long time in politics, too! The counting will begin in Wales’ 22 local authorities at 6pm and they will start reporting back to the National Counting Centre in Haverfordwest at 10pm, after the polls have closed in Italy. The final declaration is expected around 12pm.


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