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Labour routed at the ballot box as centre-right gains traction in EU

LABOUR suffered its worst performance in a national election since World War II, as it was left trailing in third place by the Conservatives and the UK Independence Party (UKIP) in this week&rsquo;s European elections.<br /><br />Prime Minister Gordon Brown&rsquo;s party polled just 15.7 per cent of the vote, undershooting Labour&rsquo;s worst expectations, as David Cameron&rsquo;s Tory party picked up the largest share of the vote, with 27.7 per cent.<br /><br />UKIP, headed by Nigel Farage, grabbed 16.5 per cent of the vote, reaching second place in a national election for the first time in its brief history.<br /><br />But the most remarkable result was for the British National Party, led by Nick Griffin, which polled 6.2 per cent, picking up two seats &ndash; its first ever &ndash; in the European parliament in the process.<br /><br />The result was an electoral disaster for the Labour party, which was beaten into fifth place by the Green Party in the South East and South West and lost top spot in Wales for the first time since 1918.<br /><br />Across Europe, the poll saw centre-right and far-right parties make significant gains, with EU-wide turnout falling to 43 per cent, its lowest level in 30 years of European polls.<br /><br />The centre right European People&rsquo;s Party (EPP-ED), which includes German chancellor Angela Merkel&rsquo;s CDU and French president Nicolas Sarkozy&rsquo;s UMP, finished with 264 seats, far outstripping the Socialists&rsquo; 183.<br /><br />However, Conservative leader David Cameron is planning to take the Tories into a new, more Euro-sceptic centre-right coalition after criticism from party members at the grouping&rsquo;s Franco-German dominance.