The first UK results have been declared in the EU Parliament elections, after the polls closed across Europe.
Voting took place against the backdrop of Brexit, with both main parties expecting to be punished for the current paralysis at Westminster.
Polling expert John Curtice predicted that The Brexit Party would come first and the Lib Dems second.
The North East region is the first to declare – Nigel Farage’s party has gained two MEPs, Labour has one.
Prof Curtice said at 39%, The Brexit Party vote in the North East – a strongly Leave area – is 10 points up on what UKIP achieved in 2017.
Meanwhile, there was as much as a 13.5% swing from Labour to Lib Dem, easily enough to put the Lib Dems into second place nationally. The Conservative vote is down 11 points.
All 28 EU member states are electing MEPs, and countries have been voting since Thursday.
The UK will be electing 73 MEPs for its 12 regions under a system of proportional representation.
Figures so far suggest that the turnout in some areas has risen sharply, while others have seen a fall compared to the last election in 2014.
Wales saw the highest increase in turnout, with a five percentage point increase to 37.3%. The South East, South West and North East also saw a boost in the number of people casting their vote.
But in Northern Ireland turnout fell nearly six percentage points to 45.1%, while smaller drops were also recorded in the West Midlands, North West and Eastern regions.
The total turnout in 2014, in terms of valid votes cast, was 35.4%.
Race for second
Early results show increases in Green support, suggesting they may also be heading for better than the 8% that they won in 2014.
The newly-formed, Remain-supporting Change UK has so far have registered 3%, suggesting that the forecast of the polls that they would perform poorly has been correct.
Prof Curtice said: “It is not unlikely that the initial interest in tonight’s results, apart from how well the Brexit Party does, is the status of the race for second place – some polling has suggested it is close between Labour and the Lib Dems.”
He said that for the Lib Dems to overtake Labour they need just over a 9% swing across Britain as a whole.
“So whether or not they meet this target in the early results could well prove to be a crucial indicator to the overall picture tonight,” he said.
Both of our big main parties expect to be punished very severely for the meltdown in Westminster over Brexit.
The flip-side for the smaller parties? The Lib Dems are feeling buoyant and of course, Nigel Farage is back with a vengeance.
It is possible if the Brexit Party are top that they will have a very profound impact on what comes next in the UK’s attempts to leave the EU.