Anti-Brexit parties won the biggest share of the European vote, despite the Brexit Party’s surge, campaigners have claimed.
People’s Vote campaigners highlighted how the five parties who they said campaigned explicitly against Brexit and for a People’s Vote – the Liberal Democrats, the Greens, the SNP, Change UK and Plaid Cymru – won 40% of the vote, compared to 35% for the Brexit Party and Ukip.
Adding in Labour, which gave qualified support for another referendum, takes the anti-Brexit side to 56% and counting Conservative votes on the pro-Brexit side gives 44%.
Pollster Professor John Curtice said things were not quite so clear cut, although voters were polarised and had clearly rejected the attempted compromises of Labour and the Conservatives.
Speaking to the BBC, he said: “Some want to add the numbers up to say that actually rather more people voted for pro-referendum parties than no-deal parties, therefore this was a mandate for a second referendum.
“Well, we can argue about the extent to which the SNP’s vote is actually a Remain vote – it is predominantly but not wholly – and if you take them out actually it’s 35:35.
“But in any event, whether it’s 35 or 40, it’s still less than 50%, so I think the honest truth is that neither side can claim on the basis of these results that voters are sending clear signals.”
However, Jo Swinson, Liberal Democrat deputy leader and People’s Vote supporter, claimed the results breakdown showed there was no mandate for a no-deal Brexit.
She said: “The real story from last night’s results is the huge surge in support for the Lib Dems and other strongly pro-People’s Vote parties, who look set to win a larger share of the vote than parties backing a no-deal Brexit.
“There is no majority in either the country or in Parliament for a crashing-out of the EU with a no-deal Brexit.
“Two-thirds of people who voted in this election rejected Nigel Farage’s terrifying vision for our country.
“There was no mandate for this form of Brexit in the 2016 referendum – when it was scarcely discussed – and it is fanciful to pretend such a mandate exists now.”
Ms Swinson called on Labour to “get off the Brexit fence” and warned the Tories there was no point trying to “out-Farage Farage” by pursuing no deal.
She said: “The Labour Party has rightly paid a heavy price for failing to listen to its own candidates, members and supporters who want it to unequivocally back a People’s Vote – Labour must get off the Brexit fence.
“And the Conservative Party would be wise not to draw the wrong conclusions from its humiliation last night.
“If a new leader tries to out-Farage the Brexit Party by imposing a no-deal Brexit on the country without letting either MPs or the British people have their say, it will be a constitutional and democratic outrage which voters will not quickly forget.
“A change in prime minister will not change the political reality – there is no majority for any form of Brexit in either the Parliament or the country.
“The only way to solve the Brexit crisis is to give the public the final say in a People’s Vote on the Brexit deal.”
The People’s Vote campaign highlighted how parties giving full or qualified support for a People’s Vote gained nine seats overall, compared to an overall loss of 10 seats for The Brexit Party, Ukip and the Conservatives.
Green Party co-leader Jonathan Bartley was celebrating winning seven seats with two million votes and said the wins showed people were sick of “the politics-as-usual approach of the old parties across Europe”.
He said: “The result of this election, with 12% of the vote, a tally of more than two million, shows huge support for our message of ‘yes to Europe, no to climate change’.
“To beat the Tory party in a national election for the first time is just the icing on the cake.
“Austerity in the UK and far beyond has done great damage – the political philosophy that has allowed the wealth of the 1% to soar while many millions struggle is one of the key causes of the 2016 Brexit vote.”
Former international development secretary Priti Patel told Brexit Central the results were “far worse than even the greatest pessimist could have predicted” and were a “stark warning” to the Tories to change course.
She said: “The results reflect the loss of public confidence and the collective failure of the Government and Parliament to get Britain out of the EU as promised.
“The Conservative Party has needlessly antagonised the electorate and if we are not careful it will take years to repair this reputational damage.
“These elections pose great questions for the electoral future and viability of both Labour and Conservative parties.
“This election is not a protest vote, but the anguished cry of a completely exasperated British public. Those who write this election off will do so at their peril.”