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As European elections loom, will they tell us anything we don't know already?

PUBLISHED: 05:30 16 May 2019 | UPDATED: 09:58 16 May 2019

Nigel Farage attracted people to the Brexit Party rally in Clacton.  Picture: RACHEL EDGE

Nigel Farage attracted people to the Brexit Party rally in Clacton. Picture: RACHEL EDGE

Rachel Edge

A week from today some of us will be voting in European Elections that it seemed like we would not be holding for politicians who may never take up their seats in Brussels and Strasbourg.

Labour's leaflet for the European Election.Labour's leaflet for the European Election.

There is something truly surreal about the situation the country now finds itself in - and I'm not sure we're going to find things any less surreal once the results are declared on Sunday week.

There are two groups of people who seem to want the elections: Nigel Farage's Brexit Party which sees it as a way of picking up a high proportion of the votes cast and Remain enthusiasts who see it as a sort-of referendum giving them the chance to vote for an anti-Brexit party.

The truth is, though, that the parties (with the exception of Mr Farage's lot) are throwing out so many mixed messages it is impossible to know the best way around the confusing scenarios that are being drawn.

One thing seems certain, The Brexit Party has eclipsed UKIP as the genuine voice of those wanting a hard-Brexit. UKIP might be longer-established, but over the last 18 months it seems to have reinvented itself as a neo-BNP with an anti-Islamic agenda and the voters seem to have spotted that.

Green Party deputy leader Amelia Womack with lead candidate for the European Election in the East of England Catherine Rowett in Ipswich. Picture: PAUL GEATERGreen Party deputy leader Amelia Womack with lead candidate for the European Election in the East of England Catherine Rowett in Ipswich. Picture: PAUL GEATER

But for the anti-Brexit brigade confusion reigns supreme. I studied politics at university back in the stone age and I've been covering the subject for the best part of 30 years, and I'm damned if I can see the difference between Change UK and the Liberal Democrats.

Quite why the new party didn't either join, or at least seek an electoral pact (like the Liberal-SDP alliance in 1982) totally baffles me. I can only assume that the egos of the MPs who defected from their former parties are too great to want to seek anyone else's support.

The LibDems' strong show in this month's local elections further enhances their claim to be the genuine voice of moderate politics in this election - and could consign Change UK to the dustbin of history.

I still think the Green Party could be a beneficiary of this confusion in the centre of UK politics. There are people who want to see beyond the constant bickering over Brexit and look at longer-term issues that need to be addressed.

Labour's defending MEP Alex Mayer was supported by party members while campaigning in Ipswich. Picture: PAUL GEATERLabour's defending MEP Alex Mayer was supported by party members while campaigning in Ipswich. Picture: PAUL GEATER

They might not sign up for every radical element of the Green Party's agenda - but they don't mind lending them a vote in this election to show that they do care about the environment . . . and want to give the other parties a kicking!

The campaigning for the major parties, where it is happening, has been pretty sporadic.

Labour is at least taking the election seriously - sending out an election leaflet and knocking on a few doors. But the leaflet is so meaningless, starting with the slogan on the front.

It says: "Labour will bring our country together." Really? How on earth can you bring supporters of Nigel Farage and Anna Soubry together? It's totally meaningless twaddle.

Coming from a party that's desperate to avoid a clear position on Brexit to avoid upsetting either its anti-Brexit brigade in London or its Brexiteers in northern seats, it's just another attempt to kick the can as far down the road as possible and hope it will go away.

The Tories just don't want anything to do with the poll - knowing that half their members are probably going to vote for Mr Farage anyway and most of the other half will have something else to do on election day!

I heard some pretty fruity language from one Suffolk Tory when I asked whether he was doing any campaigning!

Mr Farage, meanwhile seems to love the attention he gets touring television studios - although he doesn't like being challenged when he makes outrageous comments that have no basis in truth.

I noticed that when I asked him about his insistence that all opinion polls showed a majority for a no-deal Brexit, when in fact all opinion polls since last April actually showed a majority of people wanted to stay in the EU.

He didn't like it when I challenged him, and he got extremely tetchy when Andrew Marr challenged many of his policies during his interview on Sunday.

I doubt whether either of these incidents will have diminished the Brexit Party leader in the eyes of his supporters - but it is vital that if politicians try to spin facts to suit their own points of view that they are challenged if their statements are not entirely accurate.

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