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WorldBritons Pause to Vote in an Election Many Did Not Want

02:50  27 may  2019
02:50  27 may  2019 Source:   nytimes.com

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LONDON — There was an odd feeling in the air Thursday, almost one of suspended animation, as Britons voted in elections for a European Parliament that Britain was supposed to have quit by now and lawmakers took a day off from their back-room machinations to oust Prime Minister Theresa May.

Britons Pause to Vote in an Election Many Did Not Want . As Europeans go to the polls in a Continental election , a New York Times reporter set out to find out what Europe means to Europeans in 2019.

Britons Pause to Vote in an Election Many Did Not Want© Kevin Coombs/Reuters Union Jacks lining the Mall in London on Thursday. Reports piled up that European Union citizens living in Britain were turned away from polling stations, despite being registered to vote.

LONDON — There was an odd feeling in the air Thursday, almost one of suspended animation, as Britons voted in elections for a European Parliament that Britain was supposed to have quit by now and lawmakers took a day off from their back-room machinations to oust Prime Minister Theresa May.

At polling stations around the country, people lined up to take a thwack at the main parties, Conservative and Labour, with Leavers streaming to a Brexit Party that did not exist four months ago and Remainers to the Liberal Democrats, previously seen wandering in the political wilderness.

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But many Conservative lawmakers have grown more hard-line during Mrs. May’s long, fractious tenure and now support leaving the bloc with no withdrawal deal at all — a move opposed by a majority in Parliament and one that Britons Pause to Vote in an Election Many Did Not Want . May 23, 2019.

Up to 3 million Britons living overseas are to be denied a vote in the general election , the Cabinet Office has confirmed. In a letter sent to the New It is quite disgraceful that any government can so disregard so many of its citizens.” Jane Golding, a British lawyer living in Berlin and campaigner for

Outside polling stations on the eastern edge of London, among the very few parts of the capital that voted for Brexit in 2016, people poured out their frustrations, fed up with the ineptitude, indecision and chicanery that they said had knotted up British politics for three years.

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Jane Sykes, a supporter of Nigel Farage’s upstart, single-issue Brexit Party, said simply: “The main parties have lost it.”

The latest goings-on in the British Parliament offered no reassurance. Prime Minister Theresa May on Thursday clung to power, going so far as to discuss whether reneging on a new Brexit deal she rolled out two days earlier could mollify cabinet ministers eager to replace her.

Her hopes of trying once more to push her Brexit deal through Parliament were dashed after changes she unveiled to much fanfare on Tuesday — including opening the door to a second referendum on Brexit — were rejected by Brexiteers as a betrayal and by Remainers as insufficient. Plans to publish her new plan on Friday were shelved.

Divided Britain heads to the polls for EU elections it was not meant to hold

Divided Britain heads to the polls for EU elections it was not meant to hold Divided Britain heads to the polls for EU elections it was not meant to hold

British voters go to the polls Thursday to elect a new parliament which, in turn, will decide who forms the next government. The economy has been the main issue throughout the campaign alongside concerns about immigration and social issues. The three main parties are running neck and neck with

Britons voted on June 23, 2016, as a refugee crisis made migration a subject of political rage across Europe and amid accusations that the Leave campaign had relied on lies and broken election laws. That proposal lost, 272 to 264, in a nonbinding vote , but more than 100 lawmakers abstained, so it is

Britons Pause to Vote in an Election Many Did Not Want© Kirsty Wigglesworth/Associated Press The Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has for months walked a tightrope on Brexit, refusing to commit to backing either a second referendum or a compromise Brexit deal with Mrs. May.

But Mrs. May’s undoing seemed more a matter of timing and choreography than anything else. She will meet on Friday with Graham Brady, who leads the committee of Mrs. May’s Conservative backbench lawmakers. He is holding onto secret ballots from some of those lawmakers that could allow the party to change its rules and try to unseat Mrs. May almost immediately.

But the principal focus on Thursday was the European elections, the results of which will not be known until Sunday. They are being seen as a referendum on the main parties’ handling of Brexit, and most polls show a humiliating loss for both the Conservatives and Labour.

[Follow our coverage of European election results.]

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More Britons want to remain a member of the European Union than leave, according to The survey by polling firm YouGov showed that if a referendum were held immediately, 46 percent would vote to remain, 39 percent would vote to leave, and the rest either did not know, would not vote , or refused

A referendum - a vote in which everyone (or nearly everyone) of voting age can take part - was held on Thursday 23 June, 2016, to decide whether the UK should leave or remain in the European Union.

The Brexit issue has long paralyzed the main parties, whose ranks contain factions from both sides of the debate and which are constantly splitting the difference, pleasing nobody. As a result, increasingly polarized voters are searching for parties that promote their side unabashedly: the Brexit Party for Leavers and the Liberal Democrats for Remainers who want a second referendum.

And the European elections, typically low-turnout affairs dominated by the most ideologically motivated voters, provided an excellent opportunity for voters to flock to those parties to cast a protest vote that reflects their frustrations with the major parties.

“I’m gutted about Brexit,” said Stephen Page, 65, a retired London taxi driver and print worker as he leaned on a railing outside a polling station in Barking, a suburban town about 45 minutes east of central London. “I’ve literally voted Lib Dem because Corbyn wouldn’t, what we call, nail his flag to the mast. He’s dithered."

He was talking about the Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, who has for months walked a tightrope on Brexit, refusing to commit to backing either a second referendum in all cases or a compromise Brexit deal with Mrs. May.

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Immediately prior to the vote , Ipsos MORI data showed that Europe was the third most highly ranked problem by Britons who were asked to name the Academic Eric Kaufman notes the relatively strong positive correlation between a voter 's support for the death penalty and their choice to vote 'leave'.[4]

But the decision does carry political risks for Mrs. May. For a politician who has cultivated a And in a year of election surprises, embittered but highly motivated voters from the Remain camp could While a third or so of Conservative voters voted against leaving, they are considered likely to back

Mr. Page said he had watched his town change considerably in the past few decades, with the white British population dropping to 50 percent in 2011 from 80 percent a decade earlier in the borough of Barking and Dagenham. During the same period, many immigrants arrived from Africa and Southeast Asia.

The borough, traditionally a Labour stronghold, elected some far-right councilors from the British National Party in the mid-2000s, and 62 percent voted in 2016 to leave the European Union.

Outside a church preschool serving as a polling station in Dagenham, Olivia Walugembe, 37, a nurse and a refugee from Uganda, said the events of the past three years had awakened immigrants in the town who had ignored Brexit before the 2016 referendum. She said they were especially scared of an end to free movement, the right of European Union citizens to live and work across the bloc.

“Most black foreigners didn’t think it would affect them,” she said. “They thought it’s only to do with immigration coming from Europe. Now, people have realized it’s going to put a stop to so many things, even just free movement, so they’ve changed their minds.”

She said she had voted for Labour because she had detected the party moving toward backing a second referendum.

But Ms. Walugembe was a rare voter sticking with a mainstream party. In several hours of interviews outside two polling stations, the only man who admitted voting for Mrs. May’s Conservative Party hustled away without wanting to explain why.

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Decades of Euroscepticism and ministerial rebellion led to Britain’s self-ejection from a union that voters never fully embraced.

Eurosceptics in other member states applauded Britons ’ decision to leave the European Union in a referendum that sent shockwaves around the world, with Almost alone in continental Europe, Merkel tried to slow the rush to get Britain out of the EU door. Europe’s most powerful leader made clear she

Instead, most anti-Europeans had cast their lot with the Brexit Party, which has not articulated any policies beyond Brexit and has become a vehicle for Nigel Farage, the populist who played a big role in the Leave campaign in 2016 and is back to rally them again. The party has come under criticism for its finances, but voters were unconcerned.

“He seems to be the voice of the people,” said Paul Yetton, 62, after voting. “I don’t trust any of the rest of them. I think they’re all the same.”

In Dagenham, Gary McCarthy, 59, a school caretaker who supported Mrs. May in elections two years ago, said that he voted for the Brexit Party and might not return to the Tory fold even if the party kicked out Mrs. May and chose a Brexiteer like the former foreign secretary, Boris Johnson, as leader.

“He’s still establishment,” Mr. McCarthy said. “Somewhere in politics we need a change.”

“We need Trump, that’s who we need,” his wife, Carmel McCarthy, 60, interjected. “At least he’s not afraid to say what he thinks.”

Reports piled up throughout the day of European Union citizens living in Britain being turned away from polling stations, despite being registered to vote. Advocates for those citizens said administrative errors by local councils and widespread confusion about the registration process had led to many people being denied the right to vote.

Some people complained they had been sent the wrong forms needed by European Union citizens to vote outside their home country, or received them too late.

“I didn’t receive my form in the mail, but when I called the council yesterday, they said I was eligible,” Solange Martin, a French student living in London, said. “But today when I went to vote, they abruptly said no.”

The Electoral Commission in Britain said the government’s late decision to participate in the election limited the time available for European Union citizens to complete their registration.

Despite the seismic changes in British politics, voters were unsentimental about spurning their usual parties. Janice Melis, 75, a lifelong Labour supporter, was voting for the Liberal Democrats because she said she wanted a second referendum and Mr. Corbyn “does nothing.”

“I’ve been a socialist all my life,” Ms. Melis said, a young girl tugging on her arm, “but I’m not voting for them today. I’m fed up with it all.”

Stephen Castle and Ceylan Yeginsu contributed reporting.

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