Millions of people across Europe are heading to the polls, and for once, people in Britain are likely to be paying close attention to the results.
From around 11pm tonight the UK’s new MEPs will begin to be revealed.
But with 73 seats in European parliament up for grabs, trying to keep up with all the results can get a *bit much* – even for the biggest political geeks among us.
Never fear. Here’s HuffPost UK’s handy guide to the six biggest things to look out for on results night.
1. How Many Seats The Brexit Party Grab
Throughout the election campaign, Nigel Farage’s newly-formed Brexit Party topped the polls, with droves of frustrated Leave voters expected to back it at the ballot box. Since it was formed earlier this year, more than 100,000 members are thought to have joined.
The success of Farage’s party is likely to come as a blow to both Labour and the Tories. While Jeremy Corbyn has failed to offer voters a clear stance on Brexit – something his own MPs have criticised him for – many Conservative voters have voiced their anger with the government over Theresa May’s failing to secure the UK’s exit from the EU.
In terms of Brexit Party seats, the two big results to look out for is whether Nigel Farage keeps hold of his South East seat (highly likely) and if Annunziata Rees-Mogg – also known as Tory MP Jacob Rees-Mogg’s sister – manages to bag one of the five seats up for grabs in the East Midlands.
2. If Change UK Win Any Seats At All
Unlike the similarly new Brexit Party, Change UK had a bumpy old ride during the European election campaign, with poor results in the polls. On the day before the ballot boxes opened, an Ipsos MORI survey suggested that just 3% of voters would back the party – around the same number as Ukip.
Former BBC presenter Gavin Esler – who is standing in London – could be Change UK’s best chance of bagging a seat in European parliament. But with the party’s interim leader Heidi Allen already threatening to step down, the potential victory is unlikely to end Change UK’s troubles.
3. The Strength Of The Lib Dem Surge
The 2014 European elections were atrocious for the Lib Dems – under Nick Clegg, the party lost all but one its 11 MEPs.
But it’s set to be a very different story tonight. With none of the other major parties offering a strong pro-remain message in these elections, the Lib Dems – who have been staunchly anti-Brexit under Vince Cable’s leadership – are expected to enjoy a surge of support.
In polls leading up to election day, the party was ranked second only to the Brexit Party.
4. What The Hell Happens In The South West
In almost every election, one constituency will become a magnet for eccentric candidates. In these elections, that constituency is definitely the South West.
Battling for the six seats in European parliament are:
- Change UK’s Rachel Johnson – yes, BoJo’s sister
- Former Tory MP and Strictly Come Dancing star Ann Widdecombe
- Labour lord and pro-remain campaigner Andrew Adonis
- Ukip’s Carl Benjamin i.e the guy who made “rape jokes” about Jess Phillips
The Tories and Lib Dems also stood candidates in the area – but all eyes will be on how Johnson, Widdecombe, Adonis and Benjamin do.
As the second choice candidates for their parties, Adonis and Benjamin are significantly less likely to bag a seat – their parties would need to win their first seat and still rank highly enough after having their votes halved in order to win another. (Read this for more info about how proportional voting works in the European elections.)
5. If Gerard Batten Keeps His Job
Ukip could be set for a new leader if Gerard Batten is unable to hold onto his seat in London. Having become one of the city’s MEPs back in 2004, poor polling figures for the party mean his position in European parliament is on shaky ground.
Batten – who took on the party’s top job last year – said on Sunday that his position as Ukip leader would be “untenable’ if he lost his seat.
But he probably hasn’t lost much sleep about it – he told Sky that he doesn’t “actually believe the polls”, adding that the Brexit Party was being “bigged up”.
Meanwhile, Batten claimed he had seen polling which ranked his party as the second most popular among voters aged 18-25 – though admitted “I can’t exactly remember who did the polling.” (Only time will tell – though common sense would suggest his polling might be a *bit* off.)
6. If Voters Back Tommy Robinson
The attempt by far-right activist Tommy Robinson – real name Stephen Yaxley-Lennon – to bag votes in the run up to the European election received a lot of media attention, *especially* when he was ‘milkshaked’ in Warrington.
However, standing as an independent in the North West, the former EDL leader is unlikely to win a seat. (But it will be a *very* big story if he does.)