Vince Cable says triumphant Liberal Democrats are 'strongest Remain force' as Change UK fails to elect an MEP
The Liberal Democrats are the "strongest Remain force in British politics", leader Sir Vince Cable has said - as pro-EU rivals Change UK failed to make a breakthrough at the European elections.
By early morning, the Lib Dems had bagged 15 MEPs - fourteen more than they got at the 2014 European elections.
The party has registered more than 20% of the vote, placing them above Labour nationally and second only to Nigel Farage's new Brexit Party.
By contrast, the newly-established Change UK - formed by pro-Remain former Labour and Tory MPs - had failed to elect a single MEP, garnering less than 4% of the vote nationally and placing them just ahead of Ukip.
Pouncing on the result, Sir Vince said: "Our clear, honest, unambiguous message has won us our best ever European election result, and pushed Corbyn's Labour into third place.
“We have shown ourselves to be the strongest Remain force in British politics.“We will always stand up for the people who have put their faith in us, taking this mandate forward to campaign harder than ever to stop Brexit."
Change UK candidate Rachel Johnson - who failed to become an MEP in the South West - insisted that the fledgling party had helped boost the overall pro-Remain vote across the country.
"If you look at the tally of Change UK, the Lib Dems and the Greens, we are out-polling the hard Brexit parties - the Brexit Party and Ukip," she told Sky News.
"So we have added hugely, or in some way, to a really strong and significant Remain showing across the country."
And Change UK MP Anna Soubry said outfit had "polled better than any genuinely new UK party" - in an apparent dig at the Brexit Party being fronted by former Ukip leader Mr Farage.
But the poor result for Change UK is likely to increase calls for an electoral pact between them and the Lib Dems in a bid to avoid splitting the pro-Remain vote.
On Sunday Change UK's interim leader Heidi Allen said she would like both parties to "be in the same vehicle".
Asked whether that meant a formal merger of the two parties, Ms Allen told BBC Radio 5 Live: "Yeah, probably, I don’t know. This partisan thing completely passes me by and when I look across Europe, they seem to do pretty well with coalitions.
"I don’t know what the format will be, but will we be singing from the same hymn sheet? I would hope as a collective, let’s call us a collective, somewhere in the middle with other likeminded colleagues. I don’t think it’s sensible to be too prescriptive at the moment."
And she added: "I think we are sensible enough to know we can’t do it on our own."
Some figures in Change UK have previously spoken out against a pact with the Lib Dems, with MP Chris Leslie claiming in April that the party had "fallen below a critical mass" and "haven't had the drive to get out of that for a long time".