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By Ben Guerin
Press releases

Tories spent £2.6m on lacklustre European election campaign which saw them pushed into fifth place, new figures show

Theresa May's party spent £2.6m on the disastrous campaign

2 min read

The Tories spent over £2.6m on their disastrous European election campaign which saw them pushed into a humiliating fifth place finish.

The Conservatives registered the second highest spend of the 2019 contest, coming just £9,000 shy of Nigel Farage's Brexit Party, according to new data released by the Electoral Commission.

The election drubbing came after Theresa May vowed the UK would not participate in the March poll, but was forced to u-turn after her Brexit divorce plans were repeatedly rejected by MPs.

The scaled back effort, which came amid growing Tory splits over Brexit, saw the then-Prime Minister hosting a low-key launch event with a handful of candidates and journalists, while the party refused to put together a formal manifesto.

The Brexit dominated campaign saw Nigel Farage's new insurgent party win 29 seats, while the anti-Brexit Lib Dems came second with 16 seats.

According to the figures, the Liberal Democrats were the third biggest spenders at £2.4m, while Labour spent £1.5m on their campaign which saw them lose 10 seats and finish third.

Despite the major spend, the Conservatives suffered heavy losses at the ballot box, with Theresa May's candidates getting less than 10% of the vote and finishing behind the fourth place Green Party.

Mrs May, who had already announced her intention to step down as Prime Minister, said the results were "very disappointing", while then-leadership frontrunner Boris Johnson said the party had to change tack after the "crushing rebuke" from voters.

Meanwhile, Louise Edwards, the Electoral Commission's Director of Regulation, said the figures had been released despite concerns that five parties had provided incorrect information.

"It is vital that voters are given the opportunity to see clearly and accurately how money is spent on influencing them at elections.

"Where parties deliver returns that are not complete, we seek to get correct information before publication. We cannot delay publication for this, though."

She added: "In five cases on this occasion, we have had to publish information that we are not satisfied is completely correct. We are, as usual, considering those cases for further action in line with our Enforcement Policy."

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