European Parliament and local elections: What will happen if Ukip wins the popular vote?

Success for Nigel Farage's party would have major implications

Deputy Political Editor

The final opinion polls for the European elections suggest Ukip is likely to attract more votes than any other party. If it lives up to forecasts, what happens next?

Success on that scale would send shockwaves through the Westminster establishment, particularly as it would demonstrate that Ukip has been done little damage by the succession of embarrassing revelations and gaffes that have blighted its campaign over the last month.

It would also leave Ukip facing the challenge of keeping up the momentum. In the short term, it will pour resources into fighting next month’s parliamentary by-election in Newark triggered by the resignation of Tory Patrick Mercer following lobbying allegations.

This ought to be a safe Conservative seat, and Ukip only scraped together 3.8 per cent of the vote in Newark at the last general election.

But expectations will be high that the party can pull off another stunning result in the Nottinghamshire seat. Anything short of victory, or a close-fought second place, would provoke accusations that the Ukip bubble is deflating.

The ubiquitous Nigel Farage has acknowledged that Ukip was in danger of being perceived as a “one-man band”.

In a fresh attempt to head off the charge, he will appoint a series of new spokesmen and women, many from the 20-plus Euro MPs it can expect to send to Brussels and Strasbourg.

A crucial question they will face is over which allies it chooses in the European Parliament. Will it run the risk of accusations of extremism by linking up with the likes of the Dutch PVV, whose leader Geert Wilders has equated Islam with fascism?

Strong results for Ukip will also prompt fresh bouts of introspection in Labour and Tory ranks.

Read more: Why can't Ed Miliband eat a bacon sarnie?

Labour will try to brush off its success, and point to its expected gains in the local elections, but it would be a damaging blow to its morale.

Being beaten into second place by a party with no MPs would hardly be a sign that Labour is on the march with less than a year to go to the general election.

Ed Miliband would face fresh charges of being out-of-touch with many of the working-class voters whose support he needs to make it to Downing Street.

Nigel Farage, whose Ukip has an 11-point poll lead; David Cameron; Ed Miliband; and Nick Clegg Nigel Farage, whose Ukip has an 11-point poll lead; David Cameron; Ed Miliband; and Nick Clegg He would also come under pressure to match David Cameron’s promise to hold an in-out referendum on European Union membership, although Mr Miliband remains strongly opposed to the idea.

The Conservatives would be plunged into even deeper turmoil if they limp in third behind Ukip and Labour.

Mr Cameron would face renewed calls from the party’s Right to toughen its message on immigration and Europe in an attempt to win back the disillusioned former Tories who have disproportionately defected to Ukip.

A member of the public walks past a Ukip election poster in Glasgow (Getty) A member of the public walks past a Ukip election poster in Glasgow (Getty) The number of MPs who have advocated an electoral pact with Mr Farage’s party would be certain to grow. The Ukip leader indicated this week he was open to the idea of local deals with anti-EU MPs (Labour as well as Tory) if they “genuinely want this country to be free, independent and self-governing”. He said: “I would do a deal with the devil if it got us a referendum.”

If the polls have got it wrong and Ukip comes second, that would still be a remarkable performance for an “outsider” party.

But it would still be seen as disappointing given the way Mr Farage and his cohorts have talked up their prospects. His enemies would then revive images of bubbles bursting and the Ukip boss would face challenging questions of “what next?”

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
News
The data shows that the number of “unlawfully” large infant classes has doubled in the last 12 months alone
i100Mike Stuchbery, a teacher in Great Yarmouth, said he received abuse
Arts and Entertainment
The starship in Star Wars: The Force Awakens
filmsThe first glimpse of JJ Abrams' new film has been released online
Sport
Rio Ferdinand returns for QPR
sportRio Ferdinand returns from his three-game suspension today
News
The Speaker of the House will takes his turn as guest editor of the Today programme
arts + ents
News
people

Watch the spoof Thanksgiving segment filmed for Live!
Sport
Billy Twelvetrees will start for England against Australia tomorrow with Owen Farrell dropping to the bench
rugbyEngland need a victory against Australia today
Arts and Entertainment
The cover of The Guest Cat – expect to see it everywhere
books
Sport
Tyson Fury poses outside the Imperial War Museum in south London ahead of his fight against Dereck Chisora
boxingAll British heavyweight clash gets underway on Saturday night
News
i100 Charity collates series of videos that show acts of kindness to animals
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Opilio Recruitment: QA Automation Engineer

£30k - 38k per year + Benefits: Opilio Recruitment: An award-winning consume...

Opilio Recruitment: UX & Design Specialist

£40k - 45k per year + Benefits: Opilio Recruitment: A fantastic opportunity ...

Opilio Recruitment: Publishing Application Support Analyst

£30k - 35k per year + Benefits: Opilio Recruitment: We’re currently re...

Opilio Recruitment: Digital Marketing Manager

£35k - 45k per year + benefits: Opilio Recruitment: A fantastic opportunity ...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: ‘We give them hope. They come to us when no one else can help’

Christmas Appeal

Meet the charity giving homeless veterans hope – and who they turn to when no one else can help
Should doctors and patients learn to plan humane, happier endings rather than trying to prolong life?

Is it always right to try to prolong life?

Most of us would prefer to die in our own beds, with our families beside us. But, as a GP, Margaret McCartney sees too many end their days in a medicalised battle
Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night - is that what it takes for women to get to the top?

What does it take for women to get to the top?

Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night and told women they had to do more if they wanted to get on
Christmas jumper craze: Inside the UK factory behind this year's multicultural must-have

Knitting pretty: British Christmas Jumpers

Simmy Richman visits Jack Masters, the company behind this year's multicultural must-have
French chefs have launched a campaign to end violence in kitchens - should British restaurants follow suit?

French chefs campaign against bullying

A group of top chefs signed a manifesto against violence in kitchens following the sacking of a chef at a Paris restaurant for scalding his kitchen assistant with a white-hot spoon
Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour War and Peace on New Year's Day as Controller warns of cuts

Just what you need on a New Year hangover...

Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour adaptation of War and Peace on first day of 2015
Cuba set to stage its first US musical in 50 years

Cuba to stage first US musical in 50 years

Claire Allfree finds out if the new production of Rent will hit the right note in Havana
Christmas 2014: 10 best educational toys

Learn and play: 10 best educational toys

Of course you want them to have fun, but even better if they can learn at the same time
Paul Scholes column: I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season

Paul Scholes column

I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season
Lewis Moody column: Stuart Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

Lewis Moody: Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

So what must the red-rose do differently? They have to take the points on offer 
Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

Sarkozy returns

The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game