It was announced yesterday that UKIP got the most votes in the eastern region during Thursday’s European elections – while the Lib Dems were relegated to fifth place.
UKIP – headed at a national level by charismatic pub-goer Nigel Farage – gained a gargantuan 35 per cent of the public vote.
The figure put the Eurosceptic party up 15 per cent on the share of the vote it got in the last European elections in 2009.
It also means that UKIP will now have three Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) representing the eastern region – one more than previously.
The Lib Dems – whose national leader Nick Clegg recently argued in favour of the EU against Farage during live TV debates – gained just seven per cent in the east.
That put Clegg’s party down seven per cent on the share of the vote it got last time and behind the Green Party, which got eight per cent. The Greens got the same share as they did in 2009.
The Lib Dems have now lost their only MEP representing the eastern region on the European Parliament.
The Tory share of the vote, meanwhile, fell three per cent to 28 per cent – and the Labour vote rose seven per cent to 17 per cent.
Labour will keep its one MEP representing the eastern region, which covers six counties including Herts, and the Tories will still have three MEPs for the area.
The share of the public vote for the other parties combined fell by 13 per cent to just five per cent in the east. The turn-out of eligible voters during the poll – cast on Thursday – was just 36.19 per cent in the area.
UKIP director of communications and former political editor of the Daily Express Patrick O’Flynn will now represent the party as an eastern region MEP.
Stepping into his new role yesterday, he said: “Ladies and gentleman, I think the political earthquake that UKIP promised is under way tonight – and particularly in the eastern region.”
O’Flynn caused controversy recently by interrupting a live interview with Nigel Farage on LBC Radio.
Some media commentators put his actions down to the tough line of questioning by presenter James O’Brien.
But O’Flynn says he only interrupted because Farage had a more important interview to get to.
Speaking after his victory was announced last night, south London-based O’Flynn said: “Tonight is such an exciting night, I think, for British politics.
“UKIP has done something quite unprecedented. We have topped the poll in this region. We are all excited to see whether we can match that across Great Britain as a whole.
“We want our country back and we are going to have a really good crack at getting it back. And we are going to force the pace on this issue.
“The British people have spoken. They want control of their nation. They want some of their money back. They want control of their borders too.
“And any party that doesn’t hear the message loud and clear is in for another shock a year from now when we fight again at the general election.”