EU Parliament elections 2019: Everything you need to know about UK poll


The UK was not supposed to be taking part in the European Parliament elections on May 23.

But now, after Brexit was delayed as late as October 31, taking part in the EU-wide polls is certain.

Which leads to a lot of questions – like when are they supposed to be held, how do they work, and who will win?

The poll will be a major test for the two main parties after both lost ground in the local elections – with the Tories losing around 1,300 seats.

This time two new parties – Remain-backing Change UK and Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party – are standing and could do major damage to the two main parties.

It could lead to pressure on Jeremy Corbyn to swing fully behind a second EU referendum; and more importantly, heap Tory pressure on Theresa May to quit.

Here’s everything you need to know about the European Elections 2019.


When will the European elections happen?

Demonstrators march holding flags and placards during a pro Brexit rally on March 29, 2019

Across Europe, elections to the European Parliament will happen between Thursday, May 23 and Sunday, May 26.

The date will vary depending on the country in line with their traditions or laws around voting.

In the UK they will be held on Thursday 23 May.

When will the results be announced?

The results will only be counted and announced from 10pm on Sunday 26 May.

That means they are expected to pour in late on the Sunday night and in the early hours of Bank Holiday Monday.

Despite the ungodly hour you can follow them live at

The delay in counting is due to EU rules that say no country should declare its results while another nation is still voting.

This prevents, for example, a far-right surge in one country encouraging similar turnout in another country.


Will Britain take part in the European elections?

Nigel Farage warned MEPs that any delay would mean he would be back to the European Parliament


New MEPs have to take their seats on July 2 otherwise the Parliament will be vulnerable to legal challenge.

So because Brexit has been delayed until October 31, the elections have to take place.

When the delay was announced, Theresa May insisted the elections could still be called off if a Brexit deal was agreed in early May.

She also suggested the MEPs could be elected but not take their seats if a deal was agreed in early June.

But her deputy later admitted the elections would go ahead.

When is the register to vote deadline?

Voters must register by midnight on Tuesday 7 May

You will need to be registered to vote to take part.

If you have taken part in the 2017 general election or this year’s local elections you should already be registered (as long as you’ve not moved house).

Voters must register by midnight on Tuesday 7 May on the government’s website.

In addition, anyone wanting to vote by post must register for a postal ballot by 5pm on Wednesday 8 May.

Those wanting to vote by proxy – where you send someone to vote in your place – must apply by 5pm on Wednesday 15 May.

Voters also have until 5pm on polling day to apply for an emergency proxy vote if they are hit by unforeseen circumstances.

How do the European elections work?

We were supposed to have left the EU by these elections

The UK currently has 73 seats in the European Parliament, just under 10% of the 750 who make up the total. There are 70 in Britain and 3 in Northern Ireland.

Unlike in Westminster elections, people don’t vote for a single candidate in their constituency.

Instead, the UK is divided into twelve constituencies.

They are the nine English regions, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Each is given a number of seats based on how many people live there.

MEPs in the UK are elected by a closed proportional list system.

That means the parties submit a list of their candidates for a region, in priority order, and the number of MEPs they see elected is based on the share of the vote they get.

What is the ‘D’Hondt’ vote counting system?

The actual method for counting votes in each region is known as the ‘D’Hondt system’.

This mathematical formula is very complicated but here is a basic guide.

In each region, the party with the most votes gets the first seat. Simple.

Then, however, that party’s total vote figure is divided by two – and the party with the most votes in the second round (after that division) gets the second seat.

The process is repeated via a formula until all seats have been dished out.

As it goes on, if a party wins a second seat in its region, its vote total is then divided by three. If it wins a third seat, its vote total is then divided by four. And so on.

If you’re into this sort of thing there’s a full explainer here.

Regions and the number of MEPs they elect

East Midlands – 5

East of England – 7

London – 8

North East England – 3

North West England – 8

South East England – 10

South West England (and Gibraltar) – 6

West Midlands – 7

Scotland – 6

Yorkshire and the Humber – 6

Wales – 4

Northern Ireland – 3

Who is standing in the EU elections – and who might win?

Nigel Farage left UKIP and has formed his own Brexit Party

Currently Labour are the biggest British party in the European Parliament with 19 seats.

The Tories have 18, the SNP have two, Greens three, Sinn Fein one and the Ulster and Democratic unionists have one apiece.

But this time is totally different from when the elections were held in 2014.

The biggest party then was UKIP, who won 24 seats and 26.6% of the vote.

Since then UKIP have totally collapsed. Concerns over the party’s new hard-right direction and a number of personal squabbles.

Crucially, the then-UKIP leader Nigel Farage now leads a group of nine defectors known as the Brexit Party.

Pollsters have warned both main parties – Labour and the Tories – will take a hit amid the Brexit chaos as votes go to smaller parties.

One Tory MEP – David Campbell Bannerman – predicted the Tories will “get a kicking” and be down to 10 MEPs.

The new Brexit Party, whose candidates include Jacob Rees-Mogg’s sister Annunziata and former Tory grandee Ann Widdecombe, could scoop up a wide base of Leaver support.

It’s been polled on as high as 28% by YouGov in one survey – ahead of Labour on 22% and the Tories on 13%.

UKIP may not split the Brexiteer vote as its candidates, including “rape joke” YouTuber Carl Benjamin, are being mocked.

But the Remainer vote risks splitting between Lib Dems, new-founded Change UK (The Independent Group) and other smaller parties like the Greens.


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