UK Politics

Greens beat Lib Dems to come fourth in European poll

Green Party activists pass the time knitting during the European Parliamentary elections count at London's City Hall Image copyright PA
Image caption Green Party activists awaiting the election result in London's City Hall where the party retained their seat

The Green Party of England and Wales has beaten the Liberal Democrats into fourth place in the European elections for the first time.

It got nearly 8% of the vote nationally, and three MEPs, ahead of the Lib Dems which got less than 7%.

The Greens won one new seat in the South West of England and also retained their two existing seats in London and the South East of England.

Party leader Natalie Bennett hailed it as a "good night" for the Greens.

Before the election, the Greens - which back holding a referendum on the UK's future membership but want to stay in the EU - were talking about tripling their tally of MEPs from two to six.

Party

Febrile period

But Ms Bennett said she was "very pleased" with boosting their representation and relegating the Lib Dems to fifth place.

"The fact that we've elected Molly Scott Cato as our first MEP in the South-West. And that the fact that we've finished a very clear fourth - ahead of the Liberal Democrats," she said.

The party, she added, would now begin to look around the country for seats to target in next year's general election.

Asked what she thought of the election result meant, Ms Bennett added: "I think we're in a very febrile political period. I think we are going to see a great deal of political change. And as we've seen in the results today the past is not necessarily a great guide to the future in terms of politics."

"What voters are very clearly saying, both those who voted in the polls and the 60% who stayed away is that we are not happy with politics as it is now. We want a different kind of politics, a different kind of economics.

"And the Green Party, since we offer that, in a way of offering hope rather than trying to make people feel fearful, that hope is going to be a very powerful message and a very great attraction to voters."

'Fantastic'

Caroline Lucas, the Green MP for Brighton Pavilion said the party was "very cheered" by its win in the South West adding it was "fantastic for us".

She told the BBC that many people felt that the European Union (EU) was "something that is done to them".

The Lib Dems held onto only one of their European Parliamentary seats, suffering the biggest losses of the main political parties.

Former MEP Sir Graham Watson, who was first elected to the European Parliament in 1994, lost his seat in the South West as the Lib Dems were pushed into last place in their electoral homeland.