According to the BBC headline the Brexit Part "dominated" the EU election results:


Yet if you look at the actual numbers it seems that they polled only 31.6% of the vote. If you add up all the explicitly pro-brexit parties (Brexit + UKIP) and all the explicitly pro-remain parties (Lib Dems, Greens, Plaid, SNP, Change UK) you get:

Pro Brexit: 34.9%
Pro Remain: 40.3%

So to me it seems like the Remain side won by quite a large margin.

Did the Brexit Party "dominate" EU elections in the UK?

  • 16
    The Conservatives are Pro-Brexit. Labelling them otherwise is just silly.
    – Jontia
    Commented May 27, 2019 at 10:25
  • 3
    Labour and the Conservatives combined made up 23% of the vote. Both of those parties officially support 'delivering Brexit', and it's not clear how many people who voted for those parties are pro/anti Brexit.
    – Time4Tea
    Commented May 27, 2019 at 11:20
  • 1
    The Tories are split on the Kind of Brexit, rather than on Brexit. 2nd Referendum or remain Tories are single figure totals. Only if you call Change UK a split can it be said the Tories are split on Brexit.
    – Jontia
    Commented May 27, 2019 at 13:58
  • 7
    Maybe the best comment on that is Kussenberg's: "Were these results an overwhelming cry for us to leave the EU whatever the cost? Or a sign, with some slightly convoluted arithmetic, that the country now wants another referendum to stop Brexit all together? Guess what, the situation is not quite so black and white, whatever you will hear in the coming hours about the meaning of these numbers. The Brexit Party's success was significant and Nigel Farage's new group is the biggest single winner. But the Lib Dems, Greens, Plaid and SNP - all parties advocating the opposite - were victors too." Commented May 27, 2019 at 20:37
  • 3
    @WS2 there was little evidence for your assertion during the indicative votes ig.ft.com/brexit-second-round-indicative-votes . Unless you're talking about the party membership at large ?
    – Jontia
    Commented May 28, 2019 at 11:19

4 Answers 4


To summarize what I wrote in several comments...

  • The least controversial conclusion about this election was that both Labour and the Conservatives got punished at the polls. Labor lost half their (MEP) seats, i.e. went from 20 to 10. The Conservatives lost even more, 15 seats, being left with just 4; their worst ever EU-election results. So clearly these two parties are among (if not the main) losers of this election.

  • On the avowed remain front: The Lib Dems are clearly a big winner in terms of swing, going from just one MEP to 16. And to a lesser extent so were the Greens from 4 to 7 and the SNP gaining one MEP for a total of 3 now. Plaid didn't make any inroads, keeping their only MEP. The new party Change UK didn't get any. In total this remain group has 27 MEPs now.

  • On the avowed (hard) Brexit front: The new Brexit party indeed is the largest winner as a single party with 29 MEPs; they outdo the avowed remain parties by 2 seats. But in terms of swing it gets dicy: the UKIP lost all of its 24 seats! So the net gain in this camp was only 5 seats, a much less significant momentum. If Wikipedia is correct on this issue that 14 former UKIP MEPs had already formally switched to the Brexit Party before the election, then the swing of the Brexit Party itself in the election is only 15 seats (on par with the Lib Dems).

  • Finally, there's the thorny issue how to peg the Conservatives and Labour in terms of pro- or anti-Brexit. As the BBC pegged these two parties, they were internally divided on Brexit, so the BBC didn't count them toward either pro- or against-Brexit. As Euronews ultimately pegged them, the Conservatives were pro and Labour against. Given Corbyn's' post-election endorsement of a [2nd] referendum, Euronews was perhaps somewhat right in this assessment, at least in the future tense. But the BBC argument that the parties which were indecisive and/or ineffective vis-a-vis of Brexit prior to the election got punished is also strengthened by this post-election change of stance of Labour.

The analysis is slightly different if one uses vote shares instead of seats; the BBC has done the former already (and it's included in your post). The Brexit Party was however more effective in transforming a lesser vote share into more seats than the avowed remain parties. Also of note, geographically, (outside of NI) the Brexit Party came in first everywhere but in Scotland or London.

N.B. here's a compact numerical summary of the election from the Guardian, which doesn't include the Northern Ireland parties in this chart; the latter are 1:1:1 split on MEP seats between APNI, DUP and Sinn Fein; I think of these only DUP is pro-Brexit, the other two NI parties have campaigned against it. The vote share figures are not available for Northern Ireland, because it uses STV.

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A video analysis has now been posted by the BBC online, which is a bit more dynamic than what they had before. They also posted a (text) analysis for Northern Ireland. According to that, mirroring results in rest of the UK, the UUP took a beating (lost their seat to the anti-Brexit Alliance) because of the UUP's unclear stance on Brexit.


There is no official definiton for "dominate." Using that word, especially in a media context, is a value judgement.

  • One could easily say that the party with the largest single vote count "dominated" the election. That's Brexit.
  • One could easily say that the party with the largest single number of seats "dominated" the election. That's Brexit.
  • One could easily say that the party with the largest increase in seats or votes "dominated" the election. That's Brexit.

Right now I can think of no definition how any other party "dominated" the election.

  • 3
    How could the Brexit Party increase their number of seats when it is the first time they have ever stood? They didn't even exist last time.
    – user
    Commented May 27, 2019 at 13:17
  • 2
    @Jontia, the OP asked about the reasoning behind the word choice in a news article. That's borderline off-topic here because it asks about the motivation of people, not hard facts, but I decided to present a few logical explanations. Neither of us is editing the BBC news for style and grammar, I suppose.
    – o.m.
    Commented May 27, 2019 at 14:06
  • 4
    @user the Brexit party is the real inheritor of UKIP, through its key media figure and fundraiser Nigel Farage. The "continuity UKIP" kept the name but got no seats and a small fraction of the vote. The extent to which Brexit is a personal phenomenon around Farage as a media figure should not be understated - note the lack of conventional party infrastructure, party democracy etc.
    – pjc50
    Commented May 27, 2019 at 15:57
  • 5
    If you consider that by the time of the election 14 former UKIP MEPS had formally defected to the Brexit Party, then their seat share increased by 29 - 14 = 15 seats. The Libdems only had one MEP seat in 2014 (and before the 2019 election). So their seat surge was 16 -1 =15, equal to the Brexit Party. If you consider the Brexit Party the wholesale successor of UKIP, which had 24 MEPs in 2014, then Brexit Party surge is a lot less spectacular. Commented May 27, 2019 at 21:10
  • 1
    @PeterTaylor, the OP asked if the BBC headline was a "reasonable" interpretation. That is a lower standard than "the best" or "the only" interpretation.
    – o.m.
    Commented May 29, 2019 at 16:33

(...explicitly pro-remain parties (Lib Dems, Greens, Plaid, SNP, Change UK).

The biggest logical problem with this assessment is that these parties exist outside of the context of Brexit. These parties were going to get votes no matter what, even if the topic of Brexit never existed and the phrase hadn't ever been coined. They might have (in that alternate reality) even had this same kind of success at this moment in history. They have existed, in some form, decades before Brexit happened and even before the UK joined the EU. Their central policies have always been explicit and clear, with the exception of maybe the Liberal Democrats early on. Sure, many of the people voting for those parties may have been voting for them because of their stance on the current event of Brexit, but many certainly only voted for these parties because of their central agendas independent of any other issues of the day.

On the other hand, there's only one reason why somebody voted for the Brexit party or Change UK. There is no other reason to vote for those parties. They didn't even exist 3 months ago! That's why people are saying that the Brexit party 'dominated'. It's one-topic policy has taken the day as far as this election is concerned. Change UK barely registered. The Remain vote certainly had a large influence on those aforementioned parties. But it is the absolute clarity of all these party's respective positions that are the reason for their success. Nobody has any doubt what any of these parties would do if they were in power, and nobody thinks they would compromise on those dearly held principles, nor betray eventually even themselves the way the Conservative and Labour Parties appear to have done. And I think it is a dangerous place of complacency if the media and politicians keep putting this narrative forward that 'Remain' parties beat the 'Brexit' party.

  • 3
    By the same token, the Brexit Party (Note, not actually a party) ran a campaign with no actual policies to turn voters away. The Remain vs Leave narrative is not purely a media invention though, the Lib Dem manifesto for this election was actually titled "Bollocks to Brexit".
    – Jontia
    Commented May 27, 2019 at 21:24
  • 1
    What do you mean "not actually a party". The Brexit Party is registered as an official party in the UK.
    – 52d6c6af
    Commented May 28, 2019 at 16:11
  • It has no members, no party framework, no manifesto. It is purely a vehicle for one man's rhetoric.
    – Jontia
    Commented May 28, 2019 at 18:55
  • 3
    It had a manifesto for the European Parliament elections; it does have a party framework. I have no idea how many members it has (I'm not one), but you are entirely wrong about it not being a party. Commented May 28, 2019 at 19:23

This hinges on the definition of dominate. From Cambridge Dictionary:

​to be the largest, most important, or most noticeable part of something

Since the Brexit party got the largest share of the vote, then yes, it is accurate to say they dominated the election.

  • Even though they were significantly beaten by the explicitly pro-remain parties? Sounds like they were comprehensively and decisively beaten, their only policy being a hard brexit having been rejected by a large majority.
    – user
    Commented May 28, 2019 at 15:01
  • @user Yes, dominate here simply means largest, it doesn't mean "larger than all others put together".
    – Richard
    Commented May 28, 2019 at 15:21
  • 1
    @user You seem to be looking for confirmation of your POV only - which is a valid reason to close your question. Please stay neutral if you ask a question.
    – Sjoerd
    Commented May 28, 2019 at 23:55
  • @Sjoerd please be respectful and don't make unfounded accusations. I am merely exploring the issue and rising a reasonable question that seems to undermine the answer. See here for guidance: meta.stackexchange.com/conduct
    – user
    Commented May 29, 2019 at 9:33
  • @user Please be more open for valid criticism. See here for guidance: meta.stackexchange.com/conduct
    – Sjoerd
    Commented May 29, 2019 at 13:40

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