The country may be divided over Brexit but the election turnout doubled in Southwark – and this is only a good thing

(29 May, 2019) Editorials

Southwark may be a Labour stronghold, but it is far from a one-party borough

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In Southwark we are used to seeing voter turnout not much higher than 20 per cent for EU elections, or indeed any election.

2016’s EU referendum may have divided our country, broken the Tories, and left Labour floundering, but if there is one positive, it’s seeing turnout doubling, as more than 40 per cent of residents had their say last week.

Whether you’re a Remainer or voted Leave, last week’s vote was a chance, two years after the referendum, to send a message to government and parliament about the current state of affairs as we move inexorably toward the October 31 deadline.

When turnout is high, there can be upsets and surprises. Southwark may be a Labour stronghold, but as the Liberal Democrats have shown this week, it is far from a one-party borough – and voters will swing if they feel sidelined by the bigger parties.

The Lib Dems have much to celebrate, but claims their vote represents London have been slammed by those who did vote Leave and have supported the Brexit Party.

They may be in a minority, but it’s a sizeable one; more than 9,000 people voted for Farage’s party in Southwark.

There are now two Brexit Party MEPs representing London in the European Parliament, for however long.

Leavers now have more of a voice in Europe than they’ve ever had in their home borough.

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