European polls begin in UK, Netherlands - GulfToday

European polls begin in UK, Netherlands

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DUP MEP candidate Diane Dodds and her husband Nigel Dodds arrive to vote in Banbridge on Thursday. Agence France-Presse

Voters in Brexit-bound Britain cast ballots on Thursday at the start of a 28-nation European election in which eurosceptic, anti-immigration forces have vowed to create a political earthquake that will shake the Brussels establishment.

As Britain’s prime minister faced losing her job over her failed efforts to quit the bloc, the country joined the Netherlands on the first-day of a four-day election across the European Union.

It was an extraordinary spectacle for a country that voted almost three years ago to leave the bloc and whose prime minister, Theresa May, had vowed to honour the result in time to avoid the election. The Brexit crisis mirrored deep divisions across the continent.

Rising anti-establishment forces across the continent are bidding to make significant gains, threatening closer EU integration.

More than 400 million European voters are eligible to elect 751 Members of the European Parliament, with the first results announced late Sunday once voting in all 28 member states has been completed.

Having voted to leave the EU in a seismic referendum in 2016, Britain was originally meant to depart on March 29 and therefore not take part in these elections.

But its MPs have not been able to agree on a divorce deal and the country now finds itself in the absurd situation of electing lawmakers to an institution it is planning to leave.

The issue looked set to dominate how Britons vote.

“Once you’ve made a decision to leave I felt that we should have executed it,” said Neil Rodford, 49, as he cast his ballot in southwest London.

The Brexit Party, formed only this year by eurosceptic figurehead Nigel Farage, is leading the latest opinion polls with 37 per cent of the vote.

Amid widespread frustration at Britain’s stalled departure from the the EU and political gridlock, the ruling Conservatives are in fifth place with just seven per cent while the Labour opposition also lag behind on 13. “We are attempting a peaceful political revolution in this country,” Farage told the party’s final rally this week.

“The establishment: they’re not frightened − they’re absolutely terrified!” he said of his new party’s rise.

Agence France-Presse