Revoke Article 50, Eltham MP demands as Lib Dems surge in Greenwich

Polling station in Charlton Village
Voters went to the polls on Thursday, but their ballots were not counted until Sunday

Updated story, 5.30pm: Eltham MP Clive Efford has demanded the Labour party adopt a policy of scrapping Britain’s exit from the European Union as the Liberal Democrats scored their best results for a generation in the European parliamentary elections.

Labour scraped home to top the poll in Greenwich borough in the European poll, with 17,602 votes – 25.7% of the vote – with the anti-Brexit Lib Dems just behind on 16,769 (24.5%).

Rough figures for each ward of the borough supplied to election agents and published on Twitter by Greenwich Conservatives leader Matt Hartley indicate that the Lib Dems topped the poll in the Greenwich & Woolwich constituency – held by Labour’s shadow Brexit minister Matt Pennycook. They also indicate that Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party topped the poll in Eltham. Each ward’s figures include postal wards from across the borough so they are not exact. (There is no estimate of votes for Erith & Thamesmead, held by Teresa Pearce, as most of that seat is in Bexley.)

It is the strongest local result for the Liberal Democrats since Rosie Barnes and John Cartwright were MPs in Greenwich and Woolwich for its predecessor party, the SDP, in the 1980s, and made all the more remarkable by the party’s poor showing at least year’s council election. The result marks Labour’s biggest fright in Greenwich since Boris Johnson scored the most first preference votes among the borough’s electorate in the 2008 mayoral election.

The other main party with an unambiguous policy of opposing the UK’s exit from the EU, the Greens, increased their Greenwich vote to 9,045 (13.2%) to come in fourth place.

Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party came third, with 14,374 votes (20%) – roughly equivalent to figure for Farage’s old party, Ukip, in 2014’s poll. smashing the Conservatives down sixth place, with just 3,923 votes (5.7%), behind even the floundering Change UK party (3,972/5.8%). Ukip were down to 1,917 (2.8%). Turnout was up slightly, from 38.9% in 2014 to 40.1%.

With Labour’s national leader, Jeremy Corbyn, under attack for the party’s muddled messaging going into the election, Efford said on social media that the party needed to adopt a policy of “revoke, remain [and] reform”.

Responding to its shadow chancellor, John McDonnell, he said: “Three R’s Revoke Remain Reform. People know that politicians mean Remain when they talk of going back to them with a second referendum. Europe took a beating last night and needs to change. We must be in there to shape the future. Then decide where next.”

Greenwich Council’s deputy leader, David Gardner, said it was “time to show we are unequivocally” for remaining in the EU.

After the Conservatives’ humiliation, local leader Matt Hartley – who supports the UK’s exit from the EU – said it was time to “wake up, Westminster”, although he was less forthcoming about what exactly he wanted Westminster to wake up to.

The local Lib Dems, meanwhile, restated one of their two slogans for the election: “Bollocks to Brexit.”

The deeply polarised election results across the country were reflected in London, which returned three Lib Dem MEPs, two each from the Brexit Party and Labour, and one from the Greens, wiping out the Conservatives altogether.

In Lewisham, the Liberal Democrats actually topped the poll, their best result in that borough for nine years, notching up 28.1% to Labour’s 26%.

Lewisham East’s Labour MP Janet Daby reacted with anger: “The time for ambiguity is over. I never want to see supporters and members backing another party.”

In Bexley, the Brexit Party was a clear winner, polling more than the Conservatives, Labour and Liberal Democrats combined. It also topped the poll in Bromley taking 32.1% – broadly similar to Ukip’s polling in 2014 – compared with the Lib Dems’ 27.7%. Labour were fifth behind the third-placed Greens and fourth-placed Tories.

More polling figures at Britain Elects.

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