BNP fails to secure seats in Barking and Stoke Central

Nick Griffin is not elected to parliament, as Labour vote in Barking goes up.

It seems that the BNP leader, Nick Griffin, has failed to win a seat in Barking, east London. Simon Darby, standing for the party in Stoke-on-Trent Central, also appears to have lost out. They are among a host of failures for the far-right party tonight (it fielded a record number of candidates), but these two seats were the setting for high-profile campaigns that the party believed it could win.

The candidates conceded defeat before the final results were in. The leader of the party, who is already a Member of the European Parliament, said at 2am: "I'm being realistic. Margaret Hodge is clearly going to hold the seat." In an interview on BBC Radio Stoke, Darby was negative about his prospects and complained that the leaders' debates had disadvantaged smaller parties.

To put it lightly, this is a relief. The BNP's campaign has been beset by violence -- perhaps not at every turn (before BNP supporters flock to this blog to refute the claims), but it can certainly claim more bust-ups and physical fights than any other political party.

Yet, to a large extent, the BNP's extremist politics have dictated the perameters of the mainstream debate on immigration,. It is vital to reclaim the discussion from this malignant influence.

Update

5.30am: The final results are through for Stoke Central.

The BNP came third (behind the three main parties), with 7.7 per cent of the vote. This is way behind the Conservatives, who came third with 21 per cent. A total 2,502 people voted for Darby -- 0.1 per cent more than voted for the BNP last year. It's a very slight increase, but not one that we need to worry about.

6.01am: Provisional results for Barking have just been announced.

It's a huge majority for Labour's Margaret Hodge, who won with 54.3 per cent of the vote (roughly 6,000 more people voted for her than in 2005). The Conservatives were in second place, and Griffin secured 14.6 per cent of the vote. This suggests that a significant number of people voted for him (6,620), but nowhere near enough for him to be close to a seat. The surge in Labour support may suggest that the people of Barking are, for the most part, saying a resounding "No" to the BNP.

Final results for Barking have yet to be announced.

Samira Shackle is a freelance journalist, who tweets @samirashackle. She was formerly a staff writer for the New Statesman.

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Donald Tusk is merely calling out Tory hypocrisy on Brexit

And the President of the European Council has the upper hand. 

The pair of numbers that have driven the discussion about our future relationship with the EU since the referendum have been 48 to 52. 

"The majority have spoken", cry the Leavers. "It’s time to tell the EU what we want and get out." However, even as they push for triggering the process early next year, the President of the European Council Donald Tusk’s reply to a letter from Tory MPs, where he blamed British voters for the uncertain futures of expats, is a long overdue reminder that another pair of numbers will, from now on, dominate proceedings.

27 to 1.

For all the media speculation around Brexit in the past few months, over what kind of deal the government will decide to be seek from any future relationship, it is incredible just how little time and thought has been given to the fact that once Article 50 is triggered, we will effectively be negotiating with 27 other partners, not just one.

Of course some countries hold more sway than others, due to their relative economic strength and population, but one of the great equalising achievements of the EU is that all of its member states have a voice. We need look no further than the last minute objections from just one federal entity within Belgium last month over CETA, the huge EU-Canada trade deal, to be reminded how difficult and important it is to build consensus.

Yet the Tories are failing spectacularly to understand this.

During his short trip to Strasbourg last week, David Davis at best ignored, and at worse angered, many of the people he will have to get on-side to secure a deal. Although he did meet Michel Barnier, the senior negotiator for the European Commission, and Guy Verhofstadt, the European Parliament’s representative at the future talks, he did not meet any representatives from the key Socialist Group in the European Parliament, nor the Parliament’s President, nor the Chair of its Constitutional Committee which will advise the Parliament on whether to ratify any future Brexit deal.

In parallel, Boris Johnson, to nobody’s surprise any more, continues to blunder from one debacle to the next, the most recent of which was to insult the Italians with glib remarks about prosecco sales.

On his side, Liam Fox caused astonishment by claiming that the EU would have to pay compensation to third countries across the world with which it has trade deals, to compensate them for Britain no longer being part of the EU with which they had signed their agreements!

And now, Theresa May has been embarrassingly rebuffed in her clumsy attempt to strike an early deal directly with Angela Merkel over the future residential status of EU citizens living and working in Britain and UK citizens in Europe. 

When May was campaigning to be Conservative party leader and thus PM, to appeal to the anti-european Tories, she argued that the future status of EU citizens would have to be part of the ongoing negotiations with the EU. Why then, four months later, are Tory MPs so quick to complain and call foul when Merkel and Tusk take the same position as May held in July? 

Because Theresa May has reversed her position. Our EU partners’ position remains the same - no negotiations before Article 50 is triggered and Britain sets out its stall. Merkel has said she can’t and won’t strike a pre-emptive deal.  In any case, she cannot make agreements on behalf of France,Netherlands and Austria, all of who have their own imminent elections to consider, let alone any other EU member. 

The hypocrisy of Tory MPs calling on the European Commission and national governments to end "the anxiety and uncertainty for UK and EU citizens living in one another's territories", while at the same time having caused and fuelled that same anxiety and uncertainty, has been called out by Tusk. 

With such an astounding level of Tory hypocrisy, incompetence and inconsistency, is it any wonder that our future negotiating partners are rapidly losing any residual goodwill towards the UK?

It is beholden on Theresa May’s government to start showing some awareness of the scale of the enormous task ahead, if the UK is to have any hope of striking a Brexit deal that is anything less than disastrous for Britain. The way they are handling this relatively simple issue does not augur well for the far more complex issues, involving difficult choices for Britain, that are looming on the horizon.

Richard Corbett is the Labour MEP for Yorkshire & Humber.