Local Elections: Voters Spoil Ballots, Write in ‘Brexit Party’ and ‘WTO Exit’

Supporters of The Brexit Party hold placards as they wait for the start of the first public rally of their European Parliament election campaign in Birmingham, central England on April 13, 2019. (Photo by Daniel LEAL-OLIVAS / AFP) (Photo credit should read DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/AFP/Getty Images)
DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/AFP/Getty

Voters dissatisfied with the Tory government’s failure to deliver Brexit have spoilt their local election ballots, writing in “Brexit Party” and “traitor” besides the names of Conservative and Labour candidates.

Sky News political journalist Jon Craig reported late last night that in Bury, Greater Manchester, a number of voters were expressing their “frustration” at “not getting a proper choice” of candidates because there lacked a clear, pro-Brexit party and were spoiling their ballots in large numbers.

The movement spread across England, with voters having taken to writing in “Brexit Party,” and comments like “traitor” besides the names of the establishment party candidates, “Four Remain parties and the f*cking Tories? NONE,” and “Get out, Theresa May,” sharing pictures of their ballots on Twitter under the hashtag #SpoilYourBallot.

Others had written on their ballots “Leave the EU on WTO [World Trade Organization] terms” i.e., leaving the bloc in a clean break, in-deal scenario, “Respect the Brexit vote,” or simply “Brexit.”

One election official at the Ipswich Corn Exchange told the Daily Mail, “We thought there would be quite a few spoilt papers, but nothing on the level we have seen, it took everyone by surprise. There seems to be a lot of anger and frustration out there.”

Almost 800 spoiled ballots were reported in Basildon by BBC Essex, reportedly “in protest against the government handling of Brexit and the lack of a party to represent them.”

The Rugby Advertiser reported there were “hundreds” of spoiled ballots, many of which were overwritten with the word “Brexit” and more than 500 spoiled in north Norfolk.

While the count continues from Thursday night’s vote, it is clear that both establishment parties — Conservatives and Labour — haven had significant losses, with Prof John Curtice telling the BBC that voters had declared “a plague on both your houses” with losses for the main parties, while independents and the anti-Brexit Liberal Democrats have gained seats.

At the time of reporting, Conservatives have lost over 900 seats and while Labour was predicted to win hundreds of seats, they have lost nearly 100.

Pollsters in the week before the local English elections predicted that the Conservatives would lose between 400 and 1,100 seats after having won 4,906 seats and 140 councils in the last local vote, holding the most seats out of the total 8,425 council positions across the country.

Despite being an election to determine who controls spending and development of local services, Tory activists warned the failure of the national government to deliver Brexit was dominating conversation on the doorstep and that the party would suffer as a result of Prime Minster Theresa May delaying Brexit and refusing to let the United Kingdom leave the bloc without a deal.

The Brexit Party is predicted to win the highest number of votes in May 23rd’s European Parliament elections, if recent polling is correct. Nigel Farage confirmed that his party — which he hopes to run in the May 2022 General Election — will contest the parliamentary seat of Brexit-supporting Peterborough in the June 6th by-election after disgraced politician Fiona Onasanya was ousted in a recall petition.

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