The UK Independence Party - which supports the withdrawal of Britain from the European Union - has made big gains in the European elections.
The party is in third place, winning nearly 17 per cent of the vote and contributing to a disappointing night for the Conservatives and Labour.
Voters in many of the other 24 member states of the EU also used the election to show their dissatisfaction with their governing parties.
Turnout was low, with 151 million people voting which is 45 per cent of the electorate.
What is your reaction to the results? How relevant are the European results to the political scene in the UK? Can the UK Independence Party repeat the successes?
This debate is now closed. Read your comments below.
The following comments reflect the balance of views we have received:
How many Europhiles on here have actually read the proposed draft constitution? I have read all 265 pages of it, and I'm even more convinced now that we need a strong anti-EU voice in Brussels. Yes, the first few pages go on about preserving cultures, governments, diversity and so on, but then for the next 260 pages, it sets about eroding all those things - through 'requirements' and 'expectations' of the national governments, and this is before it signs off by declaring that the EU can overrule national governments when it suits them! Well done UKIP!
Paul Evans, Manchester, UK
The UK cannot survive as part of the EU in the long term, so it is a great relief to see UKIP doing so well. The reason we are such a sceptical nation is due to our media especially our newspapers, who keep on letting us know how incompetent the European mechanisms are. Talk to the Norwegians, they do not feel any less European by having dumped the EU and are now prospering from their country's decision. I have seen nothing good coming from the EU for the UK and plenty of ill thought out and damaging red tape.
Andrew Meredith, Chippenham, UK
It was not just UKIP who made gains by being critical of the EU. Here in the North West the Liberal Party (no, not the Lib Dems) went from 2.2 to 4.6% on a clearly EU-critical programme. Politicians should remember votes belong to the people not any party
Cllr Steve Radford, Liverpool
I hear many who support the creation of a Federal European State implying that the success of UKIP is enjoying derives from voter ignorance. "Let's have a debate on the issues" they cry, "then everyone will be pro-European". So what's stopping these people starting such a debate now? I'll tell you what stops them - they have no convincing arguments to make. Every stated reason for remaining in the EU I have ever heard, I have also seen convincingly discredited. The truth is that the only people debating the EU are the UKIP. All the others are doing is talking about the need for one.
I am to some extent saddened to see the share of the vote gained by UKIP. Because of the work I do I have had the opportunity to see how the EU benefits our country. If we left the EU I suspect trade tariffs would be imposed on us - and what about trade disputes with the US? It is only because of the power of the EU as a whole that many of the recent issues (steel, etc) have been settled. And in matters such as the environment we need a pan-European policy - what we do affects our neighbours after all. Yes the parliament and commission need reform - that I can agree, but to come out of Europe entirely would be bad for the country.
Roz, Bradford, UK
The UKIP actually scares and disgusts me. I cannot understand why they believe that just throwing the EU away after 60 years of peace and stability is in any way a sensible policy. They have blatantly got the vote from the economically unaware population who think that the most important thing is national identity and having the Queen's head on the pound. A great success for democracy but a result which I believe indicates why democracy can be dangerous.
What keeps getting glossed over is the most stunning aspect of the whole European election result for the UKIP - that a party with only one coherent policy can take 3rd place across the country!! This was an almighty protest vote by an angry electorate.
Stephen Watts, London, England
Some of the comments from Europhiles have been particularly crass. Iain D Monaghan (below) claims there are "benefits" of EU membership. In fact, these are remarkably few. A report by the Institute of Directors in 2000 showed that the costs of Britain's EU membership, open and hidden, were nearly £16 billion each year. The much-vaunted trade benefits from membership, however, were only £0.5 billion a year. Moreover, if we withdrew, we could still have a good trading relationship with the EU just as Norway and Switzerland (interestingly the two richest countries in Europe - and both outside the EU) do.
Alan Hobson, Woodford, London
Must we always be labelled "racist" when we vote, in a democracy, for what we want? How is a vote for UKIP in any way a vote for the BNP? And why can I not vote to keep decisions affecting me here, in this country, rather than sending them to Brussels without being labelled racist? It is highly offensive and inaccurate and I fail to see how this fundamental desire has anything remotely racist about it and am increasingly annoyed at the people who bandy this term about when it is utterly unfounded.
Emma, Ipswich, UK
As one TV commentator pointed out last night, UKIP, who are the most Euro-sceptic party in the UK, and the Lib Dems, who are the most pro-Europe, secured almost identical shares of the overall vote. Also, does the fact that UKIP's chief political adviser in this campaign was American indicate a hidden agenda? Further from Europe but closer ties to the US maybe? This is perhaps what attracted the likes of Joan Collins.
Any party that utilises democracy with the intention of 'wrecking' it should be banned. 60 years + 1 week to the day, UKIP and their supporters ought to be ashamed of themselves.
Congratulations to Mr. Kilroy-Silk and the UKIP! Many Britons like myself see too much Brussels interference in our day-to-day lives and are delighted to have an effective channel through which to air our views.
Stephen Horrocks, Prestwich, England
I have lived in several EU member countries and seen little evidence that they have lost their individuality as a result of EU membership. What they do have however is a lot more local autonomy than the UK. We are the most centralised country in the EU by a long way - a fact which is widely unpopular and increasingly resented by the UK's population. The government hides behind the excuse that this is due to our membership of the EU. It is not, it is due to successive governments (Tory and Labour) wanting to exercise ever more control over every aspect of our lives. Now this strategy of blaming the EU for the control freakery of the UK government is starting to backfire.
Hazel Mary, London
So Kilroy is going to 'wreck' the European Parliament, the only counterbalance (no matter how weak) to the Commission? That's lunacy. This loopy man has exposed his agenda right away - he's going to ride the gravy train for five years to push his celebrity status. Expect to see this man on TV more often than ever before...
Alex, Sheffield, UK
The European election result goes to show irrevocably that the vast majority of British citizens do not want to be controlled by Europe. I know many people who would naturally vote conservative, in any local or general election but have voted UKIP as a message to keep the pound and our sovereignty. I was one myself. This is not a negative sign for the Conservatives, just a message from the ballot box.
kris Fogarty, Leigh-on-Sea, England
Not one of the candidates standing for election bothered to send us a leaflet or knock on our door, why should we bother to vote for them?
John Rouse, Chesterfield, England
I voted for the UKIP, but not because I am racist, a little Englander, or because I hate Europe. I love Europe, but don't think our lifestyle fits in with it. I am not particularly patriotic about England or Britain, but in purely practical terms the EU is a shocking waste of our money and resources. Get a free trade agreement going - everyone wins, and we can still run our own country.
Vicky, Brighton, UK
As a former Tory, I wish to make it clear that the Tories' unclear European policy is not the only reason my vote went to UKIP. It was also a protest against the Tories' closeness to the metropolitan liberal political establishment. Among questionable actions was Michael Howard's support for the Government's despicable 'gay marriage' Bill. UKIP does not like political correctness. So I may continue voting UKIP in the absence of a credible political force that will not only be Eurosceptic, but will also stand for traditional Christian values and commit to repeal the socially liberal laws of recent decades that have damaged society.
P Walker, UK
Now we know that only a small minority of the population want to withdraw can we now get on with closer integration, a Euro Army, a new currency and all the other exciting projects that are just around the corner. A great day for EU enthusiasts all-round.
Andy Bird, Grimsby, NE Lincs
How can a man sacked for making xenophobic comments receive blanket positive media coverage for espousing xenophobic politics? Although the European Union suffers from being unaccountable to the people it represents, it is the unchecked bigotry of the media that represents a far graver threat to democratic freedoms.
Kilroy-Silk said today that he intends to spend as little time as possible in Brussels. But if the EU really is some great conspiracy against us all, doesn't our white knight need to be there slaying Eurocrat dragons? Or is all the anti-EU stuff just a lot of populist rubbish?
Stuart, London, UK
I am amazed by the complete lack of wisdom shown by the UKIP. I don't think they understand the complexities of multinationals and the effect of joining the Euro. Did you know that if this country fails to adopt the single currency, economic recession is inevitable? I believe unemployment will rise to 5 million if Britain does not join the single currency. Saving peoples jobs is imperative and if we adopt your policy of total isolation, ignorance and prejudice this country will become either a farming commune and/or the 51st of America. All corporate multinationals will pull out, even British manufacturing companies will relocate. Rover Money talks bro, Business men don't have time for senseless Utopian principles. Mr Kilroy Silk is a very good entertainer, I suggest he becomes a Stand up comedian.
Stephen Lal Bhatia , Stafford, England, Europe
UKIP, a party with one, destructive, policy and headed by Robert Kilroy-Silk and Joan Collins, gets 17% of the vote. Doesn't say much for the sophistication and discrimination of the UK electorate, does it... God help us all.
J E S Bradshaw, Southam, Warwickshire
I imagine that most people who voted UKIP haven't actually looked at their policies seriously. We need to be clear that UKIP are "BNP Lite". Their views on immigration and asylum mirror the BNPs to some extent and their policies in other areas are typical of the lunatic fringe of the Conservative Party. They are, in short, a single issue pressure group with no coherent policy for Britain in the 21st Century. These are dangerous and extreme people who will seriously damage the - already tarnished - image of Britain in Europe. They represent less than 1 person in 10 of the UK electorate, and we should be clear about that. However, the message for the future is clear: not voting helps extremists. Get out there and vote to help save our country from the right wing extremists of UKIP and the BNP.
Stewart Ellinson, Otley, UK
I will be watching carefully to see if the UKIP MEPs refuse to draw the vast salaries and expense allowances to which they are now apparently entitled.
So Robert Kilroy-Silk has said that he will only go to Brussels when "it's important and necessary". MEP's are paid the same as MP's (£57,485). Mr Kilroy-Silk is taking taxpayer's money for going to Brussels when he feels like it and trying to prevent the EU Parliament from achieving anything half useful while he's over there. Mr Kilroy-Silk really is a waste of space.
Paul Hughes, Whitchurch, Hampsire
I am for remaining within the EU, if they reform their supranational way of doing business, allow more streamline structures allow investigation into corruption - rather than suspending whistleblowers and reform the CAP and fisheries policy - if they allow more democracy and only interfere in pan European issues then I will vote to stay in. If they continue their corrupt and indolent ways then we must leave.
Andy, Totnes, Devon
The powers that be in the EU should make it clearer to the people of Europe what the advantages of the EU are. It is in fact a terrific achievement to get the people of 25 different countries, once bitter enemies, to vote in the same election to the same parliament. Yet where is the vision among the leaders of the different countries to sell this to their people?
Alan Houston, Belfast, Northern Ireland
The problem with Brussels is the amount of legislation. Companies cannot concentrate on their core activities, they have to concentrate on EU compliance. I don't support us leaving the EU, but I wish it would cut down on the legislation
James Goldman, London, UK
This should be a wake-up call for all EU supporters. There is no alternative to Europe. Isolating itself has never been good for any country. It's now time for Pro-Europeans to raise their voice and start campaigning. The UKIP's programme is a repetition of rhetorical phrases, which try to cause fear and resentment. The UK society is still seen as more tolerant and open as many of its European neighbours. Now show it!
Being temporarily out of the country, I was unable to vote in this election due to the late distribution of postal ballot papers. Had I been able to, I would probably have felt compelled to deface the ballot paper. The problem with the European Parliament is that it is powerless - deliberately so - in relation to the European Council of Ministers. Once the European parliament acquires significant powers, then we will all take voting for it more seriously.
David Lester, Virginia, USA
The best thing about the UKIP vote is that perhaps our politicians will want to start listening to what sort of Europe we want to be part of. Most people would like to remain in Europe, but that does not have to be a Federalist state with a full transfer of power to Brussels. Our economy is doing very well, let's leave the volumes of red tape to other countries.
Simon, St.Albans, England
I am amazed at the lack of real understanding of the pro-euro camp. What do we get for our billions paid into the EU? Why are 90% of the accounts never signed by the auditors? Why did the guy who was charged with sniffing out corruption leave saying it was an impossible task? Why do whistleblowers get punished and the corrupt officials appear to get rewarded? Why is the EU economy faltering? Why does the Euro only strengthen when the chiefs in Washington decide that the dollar needs to be weakened? Its time for the Brits to wake up to the reality - the EU was the project of the political elite - and it is they who, in my view, benefit from its activities!
To all those in this whole Euro debate who seem to consider all those against Euro integration as "Little Englanders": These "Little Englanders" have amongst them a significant number of captains of industry, a large number of economists and many academics. It would seem that the pro Euro people just have the louder voices amongst them.
Ed Hollinshead, UK
Personally I want us to have closer links with Europe. But the success of the UKIP has come about due to the failure of the European Parliament and the bureaucrats to deliver the benefits that were promised. Instead we are fed a constant diet of news about fraud, incompetence and nepotism. It's a gravy train for politicians and their families/friends. Ask yourselves why we know so little about what it does and why! Because we are kept in the dark by our own politicians who then blame the electorate for their ignorance when they just want out!
Geoff, Bromsgrove, England
So now we know about 17% of the 40% who voted in the Euro elections want the UK to leave the EU. Far from a bad day for EU supporters I think UKIP have done us all a favour by smoking out the people who want to leave! It would appear that the vast majority want to remain in the EU and if Mr Blair had the courage of his convictions he should call UKIP and Europhobe Tories bluff! When the UK people are presented with the benefits of EU membership they will vote to stay in.
Iain D Monaghan, Brighton UK
I find it difficult to understand why people find it so hard to appreciate that a large section of the population do not want to be part of a federalist super state. Once the EU parliament is all powerful and these MEP elections take greater significance it is clearly plausible for parties in France and Germany etc to dictate policy that affects Britain possibly at a time when MEPs representing Britain disagree with their judgement and there will be nothing we can do about it.
JG, Brussels, Belgium
With a total turnout of less than 40%, all these new MEPs can say is that they have "a mandate from those who were bothered". Well done the UKIP: all you need now is a few MPs next time and then maybe, just maybe Whitehall will have to listen to what a large number of people are saying in this Country: we can do without the expensive European Club, thank you very much. Let's have a Common Market, like the one that we reluctantly voted for over 30 years ago.
Has this country lost its head. Let's make one thing very clear, the UK cannot survive without Europe in the long term, so it is very sad to see UKIP doing so well. The reason we are such a sceptical nation is due to our media especially our newspapers, who keep on harping about how bad Europe is. Talk to any other European nation, they do not feel any less Spanish or Italian by having the Euro and are now prospering from their country's decision.
John K, London
John K says that "the UK cannot survive without Europe in the long term". He's probably right. But Britain and Europe can certainly survive without the European Union! 'Europe' is our continent and we trade and share strong cultural links with its other nations. The European Union is an outdated political project that is only supported by self-important politicians, money-grabbing trans-national corporations and the sillier elements of the European intelligentsia. For the latter group supporting the EU is a form of moral posturing - it makes them feel that they must be good, liberal people because they are not like those nasty "anti-Europeans". If you believe in liberty, democracy and peace say 'Yes' to Europe and 'No' to the EU!
James Harvard, Oxfordshire, UK
I have little sympathy for any of the big parties. If their main opponent, Robert Kilroy-Silk, can swing voters with a policy that will take the UK forty years backwards, they deserve it. If Labour believes we should be at the centre, they should say it as if they really mean it.
I hope this result convinces the main parties to have a real debate on Europe rather than patronising the electorate. Real concerns such as whether Britain would end up bailing out a bankrupt French pension system have never been addressed and although I am not anti-Europe, I won't vote to be in Europe until they are. Two points most people must be pleased with, electoral involvement was up by 10-15% and the BNP made no progress.
The British people seem to be the most short-sighted of all Europeans. Do the UKIP supporters really believe that the loss in trade and increase in tariffs from a withdrawal from the EU is really worth this misguided feeling of greatness in being British? Isn't it about time the British electorate actually looked into the Europe debate rather than making up their minds from outdated and short-sighted sources and see the whole picture!
Gareth Partridge, Maidstone, Kent
Wake up Gareth Partridge. Do you really think that leaving the EU will mean high trade tariffs and a loss of trade? BMW and Renault will still want to sell cars here and thousands of others will want to trade with us. There will therefore be no barriers as there are none with Norway or Switzerland. We will however be that much more competeitive as we will be in the race without a ball and chain marked EU around our ankles interfering with our every move!
Mike Pike, Wallington Surrey UK(IP)
Germany and France talk openly about "the project" by which they mean a programme which leads inexorably to a state called Europe. Those that want to join have two options. If they are prepared to admit the consequences, they can vote LibDem and if not, Labour. The primary objective of those wanting their country to retain authority, responsibility and accountability over its own affairs is the creation of a new "trading partner" option. This is the arrangement many people thought they were voting for in 1975. Since no political party offers the second option in this country at present, those who support the "trading partner" solution have but one choice - UKIP.
Doug Holman, Grayshott, England
Well let's see if we hear a peep out of our UKIP 'representatives' as they climb onto the Brussels gravy train..
All elections have winners and losers, although to listen to the various party comments they apparently were all winners. The true winner in the Euro election was democracy. The relatively "new" UKIP, derided by the main political parties, clearly represented the views of a great many of the electorate and succeeded in securing their votes including mine. Maybe the Government and main opposition party will reflect on the outcome and listen to the electorate, although I very much doubt it.
Jon Dean, Milton Keynes
UKIP only got 17% of the vote, with the majority of citizens not voting. So they cannot say their policies are what the British people want. Just like the 'million' anti-war demonstrators barely 1% of the population. UKIP are over stating facts when they say they have pulse of the nation and the mandate to take Britain out of Europe.
Everton, London UK
The European election results show that we desperately need to reform the voting system in the UK. If the EU parliamentary elections had been first past the post then the only party represented would have been the Conservatives. It's time the politicians realised that their job is to represent the people, not to try to hold on to power.
Colin Smith, London UK
Danish television yesterday evening had all the party leaders (or very senior members) - including the Prime Minister - in to discuss the election results. All eight of them. With eight different views of Europe. It made for electrifying and informative viewing and we need such a forum in the UK.
J T Llewellyn, Copenhagen, Denmark
The EU is perceived as a overly bureaucratic and extremely wasteful both in terms of resources and money. Billions of Euros pour in and very little value comes out. I believe that we need a united Europe but it needs a serious overhaul and open its door to being thoroughly audited. Individuals then need to be made wholly accountable which I think many of us feel they are not.
Gary Lister, UK
With UKIP taking the headlines it is concerning to see that the BNP secured over 750,000 votes in these elections - They might not have won a seat but this should worry both the Tories and Labour far more than UKIP. As for the Government perhaps they should reflect on the Euro position after all it is pretty much accepted that the bulk of the UKIP vote came from the Tories. Had UKIP not stood Labour really would be licking their wounds.
Robert Cooke, Telford, Shropshire
I am fed up with payments to Europe to support French farmers, Spanish fishermen and for the fraudulent use of the Commission who have yet to have their accounts audited and signed off. It's our money they are spending which could be put to better use. We originally joined a trading bloc not a Brussels dictatorship
B Winchester, Nr. Norwich - England
The three 'main parties' domestically provide the same sorry mixture as before. In Europe two would sell out our heritage to Europe in exchange for what they see as 'power'. The Tories (who I would normally support) seem to sit on the fence. At long last I found a set of people who represented my views so like many others I voted for them. This was no protest vote regarding anything else. No thank you to the expensive and wasteful Europe
Keith Cullup, Tetsworth England
Why bother with Europe? Take a look at the mass graveyards in Flanders and Normandy; the ruined cities of Coventry and Dresden, and then say European Unity is "not for us". The current set up isn't perfect, but it's a whole lot better than the alternative. I'm wholeheartedly for unity - let's get properly stuck in and make it work, as a repeat of the past hundred years doesn't bear thinking about.
Kevin Patrick, Bournemouth England
All those who think that a mandate exists to withdraw from Europe should remember that the vast majority of people voted for parties that see our future as being in Europe.
Glen, Ware, Herts
What have all the little Englanders ever done except moan about being put upon by a load of foreigners? The country will sink into oblivion unless some with vision stand up to be counted, Britain should be leading the way on integrating Europe. We have common human values, not stupid meddling neighbours. It is about time England woke up to the fact that it is not necessarily better than the rest.
Peter, Surrey UK
As a gay man and a UKIP supporter I find the constant efforts to link the UKIP to the BNP very distasteful but not surprising, when the main parties are faced with a challenge they tend to engage in nasty politics. They are not a racist party and are drawing support from across the political spectrum.
Arron Clements, Coventry, UK
The results are a triumph for those who look back to an alleged 'golden age' and who cannot look forward.
The case for the EU has not been put forward enough, instead we have pathetic nationalism, the results of which we celebrated the defeat of only 2 weeks ago.
Jonathan Dumbell, London UK
A brilliant result for UKIP - it is about time that the people of this country were given the opportunity to vote against Europe. After all, we are a democracy.
Catherine, Cheshunt, Herts
How are the people ever to be expected to understand the EU when both pro- and anti- can only ever describe their opponents' beliefs as tantamount to heresy? How are we to know which ones, if any, are actually telling the truth?
Matthew R. Illsley, Mansfield, England
It's often convenient to blame Europe for unpopular legislation by the government of the day, this is something both Labour and the Conservatives are familiar with.
It's high time we had an open, honest, adult debate about Europe in this country and decide exactly where we stand, instead of this childish self pitying syndrome we seem to have developed of being picked on by Europe!
Jay, London, UK
What is the reality of UKIP's life out of Europe? The answer is a poorly paid deregulated workforce providing cheap labour to do the dirty work that is not done in the EU. Whilst the city business supports of UKIP make large profits.
Bill Waine, Coventry UK
The people are fed up with European rule. Let's not forget those poor fruit & veg men who had to go to court just to try and price their goods in pounds and ounces as the European Court wanted kilograms. Leave Britain alone. We're doing pretty fine and you know that old motto: If something ain't broke then try to fix it.
Chris O'Sullivan, Birmingham, UK
One thing is now clear. Blair must now refuse to sign the constitution or, if he can't bring himself to do this, he must step down right now.
Carl Jackson, Chalfont St Giles, UK
All the results seem to show is how easy it is for one-issue parties who never have to deal with the complications of real life and world politics to offer simplistic answers to complicated issues, especially when they are backed up by unscrupulous reporting in certain elements of the UK press. One thing which is worth noting is the poor performance of the British National Party; proof, if proof was needed, that the BNP and UKIP are drawing support from the same well.
Tim Barrow, UK
The irrelevance of the Euro Parliament - in most people's minds - gives them the sense that they can use these elections to register a protest. Sadly, more than half our laws are now passed because the EU has decided on something, first in the unelected commission and then by a parliament which is corrupt and vastly expensive. The UK must withdraw to preserve our freedom and our ability to manage our economy in our best interests.
John J C Moss, London UK
Maybe voter apathy could be put down to the fact that nobody knows what a MEP really does. We only hear about the EU commission telling us what we can't do!!!!
The turnout is a clear message: we are Poles, Britons, Germans¿ we are not Europeans yet.
Piotr Jaskiewicz, Siedlce (Mazovia), Poland
One of the things I'm finding to be most annoying are the pathetic scramblings of the two major parties to say how poorly the other is doing.
Bill, Cambs, UK
It is such a shame that we in Britain consistently think the EU is a plot against us rather than something to celebrate. The EU is the result of WW2, we should never go back to petty nationalism that caused the destruction of our continent. Funny home the Europhobic UKIP calls the EU undemocratic while standing in an election for the EU.
Martin Caldwell, London, UK
It's a shame that people care less about who run's the country, but care more about the result of a football match. Don't complain if you didn't vote.
Dave Shaw, London, England
I voted Tory in the local elections but for the UKIP in the European ones. Although I'll vote Tory at the General Election I thought that the Tories needed a kick as they're still too pro-European for my liking. Only if we threaten to withdraw from the EU (and stop paying their bills) will they take us seriously in negotiations.
Andrew, Cardiff, UK
I'm concerned about the rise of the Eurosceptic wing as Europe has brought benefits to Britain. I would normally consider myself a LibDem (and I am glad they're doing well) but, when I checked the websites of the different parties, I felt that the Greens more suited my views. RESPECT and UKIP concentrate too much on what they're against and don't spell out what they're for.
Francisco, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK
It's about time the big parties stopped playing their own games and started listening to what the majority of ordinary people feel and care about in this country. Lets hope these elections are a start of the end of big party politics in the UK.