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Martin Callanan, a Conservative, is expected to be in a straight fight with Labour’s second candidate for the third and final seat for his region, the North East of the UK. Labour and the UK Independence Party will take the first two seats, according to polls. Jude Kirton Darling is Labour’s first name on the list, followed by Paul Brannen. Brannen, like Callanan, is based in Newcastle. Jonathan William Arnott is UKIP’s candidate.
ECR sources expressed hope that the surge in support for UKIP would harm Labour more than the Conservatives. They said the swing toward UKIP was coming from Labour voters, traditionally the majority party in the North East.
By costing Labour votes, UKIP could ensure that Callanan, 52, retains his seat by virtue of the D’Hondt system of proportional representation. In the system, the number of votes a party gets is divided by the number of seats it has won plus one.
But there is a real risk that Labour will take a second seat. Conservatives have diverted resources from other safer seats to Callanan’s constituency as part of the campaign, which seeks to cast Callanan as “Britain’s best friend in Brussels.”
The dominant party in the ECR is concerned at the potential loss of face if Callanan is not re-elected. Callanan is in his constituency for the count.
In the local elections for Newcastle, Gateshead, South Tyneside and Sunderland, major authorities in the North East, Labour held their councils; a pattern reflected elsewhere in the region.
The results are due from 11pm tonight. If Callanan does lose his seat, the ECR will elect his replacement at the beginning of the next Parliament. Sources said they expected any replacement to be drawn from the ranks of the Conservatives.
Callanan, a Eurosceptic, was first elected in 1999 and re-elected in 2004 and 2009. In December 2011, he became Chairman of the ECR group.
He was won praise for being a tough yet engaged negotiator. Despite their smaller size, the ECR have successfully influenced important pieces of legislation, especially in financial services.
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