UK Independent party (Ukip) threatens to demand re-run of European elections

The leader of the UK Independent party today threatened to demand a re-run of the European elections and called for a ministerial scalp amid fears that his party had lost votes because its name fell below the crease of the folded ballot paper.

An outraged Nigel Farage wrote to Michael Wills, the elections minister, and demanded his resignation because he said the elections had not been contested on a “free and fair basis”.

Earlier today, the Ukip leader lodged a complaint with the elections watchdog, the Electoral Commission, in which it said that the last parties in alphabetical order were hidden when the first fold of the EU ballot paper was opened.

The party, which was tipped by the latest opinion poll to push Labour into third place in today’s European polls, said the way the paper was folded made it look as if Ukip was not on the ballot paper at all. The watchdog responded swiftly to Ukip’s concerns by issuing a note to polling stations and returning officers to hand out unfolded ballot papers to voters.

But this failed to appease Farage, who claimed in his letter to Wills that Ukip had been “swamped with upset voters who failed to find us on the ballot paper”.

“In many cases they have voted for other parties such as NO2EU and even the BNP,” Farage went on. “The most serious cases are where ballot papers were machine folded and with a sharp crease. A good pair of fingernails were needed to prise open the last page. In the case of Yorkshire just Ukip was on the last page, in other areas up to four parties were disadvantaged. We are now getting information from across the UK with a view to issuing a legal challenge to demand a re-run of the election.”

Farage accused Wills of being “totally unfit to remain in office” and called for the minister’s resignation over his alleged refusal to meet with him to “resolve the crisis”.

An Electoral Commission spokeswoman confirmed earlier today that it had received “a couple” of complaints from members of the public that party names were obscured by the crease.

“We have sent out a note to returning officers saying they should hand the papers to voters unfolded,” she said.

The latest YouGov survey for the Daily Telegraph published yesterday suggested that, among people certain to vote in the EU election, Labour support stood at just 16%, behind the Tories on 26% and Ukip on 18%.The Lib Dems were on 15%, the Greens on 10% and the far-right British National Party (BNP) on 5% — enough to give it its first seat in Brussels.

The BNP is the first party listed on the ballot paper for the European poll.


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