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'Earthquake' as UKIP snatches three West Midlands Euro seats '".

Byline: Neil Elkes News reporter news@coventrytelegraph.net

UKIP topped the European election vote in both the UK and the West Midlands where the Euro-sceptic party took three of the seven seats available.

Party leader Nigel Farage described the vote as a 'political earthquake' as UKIP pushed Labour and the Conservatives into second and third place, while the Lib Dems were all but wiped out.

e West Midlands region now has three UKIP MEPs and two each from Labour and the Conservatives.

Five years ago, when there were six seats up for grabs, UKIP and the Tories took two each and Labour and the Lib Dems one apiece.

UKIP's trio of Jill Seymour, Jim Carver and Bill Etheridge are all fresh faces to the Brussels Parliament as UKIP's previously elected MEPs - Mike Nattrass and Nikki Sinclaire - both left the party mid-term and stood unsuccessfully with newly formed Euro-sceptic parties.

e result marks a return for Labour's Neena Gill, who was a West Midlands MEP for two terms between 1999 and 2009. She is joined by former Erdington MP Sion Simon.

Conservatives Philip Bradbourn and Anthea McIntyre were both re-elected MEPs.

Lib Dem Philip Bennion's brief spell as an MEP has come to an end.

irty one per cent of votes in the giant region, which takes in Stoke-on-Trent, Worcester, Rugby and Shrewsbury as well as the West Midlands conurbation, went to UKIP.

It was a seismic result for UKIP who came rst or second in almost every district of the West Midlands. Labour dominated the larger urban areas like Birmingham, Coventry, Sandwell and Wolverhampton, but the county and Black Country areas generally gave their backing to UKIP.

Both UKIP and Labour increased their share of the vote by 10 per cent, while the Conservatives fell by four per cent and the Lib Dems by six per cent. e share for the other parties, including the BNP and Greens, fell by 13 per cent.

While UKIP were justiably in a joyous mood, spinners for the Conservatives and Labour parties claimed that the result is a result of a unique combination of factors: UKIP campaigning on their key policy area of Europe, a low turnout and a protest vote. ey argue it will be a dierent matter in the 2015 General Election.

David Cameron, Ed Miliband and Nick Clegg have all faced criticism over the way they have responded to UKIP's rise and strategists will study the results of the nal national ballot ahead of next year's general election as they plan how to tackle a new era of four-party politics.

Being pushed into second place in a national poll with just 12 months to go until the general election will add to questions about Mr Miliband's ability to take the keys to No 10. e result could also push a referendum on European Union membership further up the political agenda. A third of the West Midlands' 4.1 million eligible voters took part in the election.

Nigel Farage declared the result was an "earthquake" in British politics, adding "never before in the history of British politics has a party that will be seen to be an insurgent party ever topped the polls in a national election".

But activists for the Tories and Labour spun the UKIP support as a protest vote, fuelled by their Euro-sceptic stand, which will not be repeated in the 2015 general election.

We Demand a Referendum candidate Nikki Sinclaire, who lost the West Midlands seat she won as a UKIP candidate ve years ago, thanked her supporters and said: "As a conviction politician, I gave it my all and did the best I could. If you liked me or not, I stuck by my beliefs and gave an independent voice in a sea of party politics."

WEST MIDLANDS MEPs Jill Seymour (UKIP) Neena Gill (Lab) Philip Bradbourn (Con) Jim Carver (UKIP) Sion Simon (Lab) Anthea McIntyre (Con) Bill Etheridge (UKIP)

CAPTION(S):

From left UKIP's Bill Etheridge, James Carver and Jill Seymour. Below, Nikki Sinclaire lost her seat
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Publication:Coventry Evening Telegraph (England)
Date:May 27, 2014
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