From the 22nd to 25th May 2014 the people of 28 EU countries chose the 751 MEPs to represent them in Brussels. Well some people did. The average turnout wasn’t great at 46% , the newer Eastern European countries showed the least interest with Slovakia hitting an all time low of 13%.
Here in the UK’s South-East 10 MEP seats were going and more people voted than ever before. Helped by local elections on the same day and as UKIP will point out- there are more people living here than ever before.
A huge constituency and the proportional representation system means few shocks occur and the status quo prevails. Candidates leading the lists of the two leading partys , UKIP and Tory, are a shoe-in.
So the big issues were: Would Labour or the Greens win a second seat. Would the Lib-Dems be wiped out. Could UKIP win enough votes to become the biggest party.
When the Regional Returning Officer announced the results in Southampton on May 25th . The Lib Dems had held on to a single seat in the region and the nation. UKIP received over 750K votes and the populist party became the most popular.
Three of UKIP’s four MEPs,- Atkinson, James and Finch have been elected to the EU Parliament for the the first time.
Nigel Farage, aged 50, UKIP party leader, MEP since 1999, lives in Kent has an office in an old barn in Bognor Regis, former commodities dealer and businessman. Will stand in the National elections in 2015.
Janice Atkinson , aged 52, former Tory and Co-op coal worker’s daughter, lives in Kent, previous career in Marketing. Will be UKIP’s representative for Kent and East Sussex in Brussels.Member of the EU Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs commitees.
Ray Finch, aged 53, a Scouser but lives in Havant. Former cable tv engineer, he was elected to Hampshire County Council in 2013. Has stepped down as UKIP County Council leader but remains a local councillor. Member of the EU fisheries committee.
The three remaining Torys divide the constituency into three and represent different areas.
Daniel Hannan, aged 43, lives in Hampshire, an MEP since 1999 has campaigned against the EU since 1999. Free-market fundamentalist . Anti NHS. Loved by the US Tea-party and Tory euro-sceptics. Writes books and a Telegraph blog. Represents Sussex and Hampshire in Brussels. Member of the EU Petitions Committee.
Nirj Deva aged 66, lives in London, born in Sri Lanka and ex-MP for Brentwood. Has been an MEP since 1999. Director and Exec-director of multiple businesses in Sri Lanka.Vice chair of the EU Development committee.
Labour increased their vote but missed out on a second MEP. The incumbent Peter Skinner stood down.
The Greens had high hopes of a second seat with the popularity of Brighton MP Caroline Lucas and fracking a local issue but their vote fell by 3% and even in their Brighton heartland they only came second to Labour.
Keith Taylor aged 61, lives in Brighton, former City Councillor and local activist, has been an MEP since 2010 and has stood twice in national elections. Member of the EU Committee on Transport and Tourism
Being in the Coalition has been tough on the Lib-Dems and with the EU elections often used as a protest vote they lost 10 of their 11 UK MEPs the sole survivor was in the South-East.
Member of Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality. Also an EU Quaestor.
The MEP’s stay in Brussels may be short with National elections next year and a Tory promise of an EU referendum by 2017,they may not last until 2019.