David Cameron, the Prime Minister, responded to the triumph of the UK Independence Party in the European elections (which left the Conservatives in third place for the first time ever in a national poll) by having dinner with other European leaders in Brussels, which he said had ‘got too big, too bossy, too interfering’. Ukip secured 4,352,051 votes, increasing the number of its seats by 11 to 24; Labour took 20, an increase of seven; the Conservatives 19, a reduction of seven. The Liberal Democrats plummeted, narrowly capturing one seat (down from 11). Even the Greens did better, increasing their seats from two to three. Nigel Farage, the leader of Ukip, said: ‘Nick Clegg’s in the most trouble, Ed Miliband’s in quite a lot of trouble, David Cameron’s in some trouble.’ The British National Party lost both its seats. The Roman Party (Ave!), founded by a Frenchman who works as a bus driver in Reading, secured 2,997 votes. The turnout was 34 per cent. Northern Ireland elected two kinds of Unionist and a Sinn Fein MEP by a method of its own. Three men who had been working on the German cargo ship Suntis, berthed at Goole, fell sick and died.
The Electoral Commission launched an investigation into the count of ballots in the local elections at Tower Hamlets, which was twice suspended. Undue influence had been reported at the borough’s polling stations. The local elections in England had brought Labour a gain of 338 seats, bringing its total to 2,101 in the 161 contested local authorities; the Conservatives lost 230 councillors, making their total 1,360; the Liberal Democrats lost 310, leaving them 427; but Ukip, which had only two of the contested seats before, won 163. On YouTube, growing numbers viewed a video of Jeremy Paxman asking Silvio Berlusconi, the former prime minister of Italy, on Newsnight whether he had called Angela Merkel ‘an unfuckable lard-arse’.
HM Revenue and Customs said it had secured an extra £23.9 billion in tax through its investigation on tax avoidance. Pfizer, the American pharmaceutical company, withdrew its £69 billion takeover bid for the British company AstraZeneca. Lloyds is to float a 25 per cent stake in its TSB business on the stock market. Members of Macaulay Culkin’s band the Pizza Underground, which puts pizza-themed lyrics to Velvet Underground classics, had pints of beer thrown over them at a gig in Nottingham.
In France, the Front National gained 25 per cent of the votes in the European elections, more than any other party, pushing the Socialists led by President François Hollande into third place. In Greece, the far-left Syriza party came first with 26 per cent and the far-right Golden Dawn secured 9 per cent. In Spain, a new party Podemos (‘We Can’), deriving from the Indignados movement, took 8 per cent. But in Germany, the Christian Democratic Union led by Chancellor Angela Merkel headed the poll with 35 per cent. In Sweden, the Feminist Initiative won one seat under the slogan ‘Ut med rasisterna — in med feministerna!’ (Out with racists, in with feminists). Average turnout in the EU was 43 per cent: 90 per cent in Belgium, where voting is compulsory, but in Slovakia only 13 per cent. Jean-Claude Juncker said that, as the candidate of the EPP, the biggest grouping in the European parliament, he would be the next president of the European Commission. Police in Calais moved on 800 migrants in a makeshift camp waiting to steal into Britain.
Petro Poroshenko, aged 48, a billionaire and former foreign minister, was elected President of Ukraine. Ukrainian forces regained control of Donetsk airport after a day’s fighting in which at least 30 Russian separatists were killed. The king of Thailand gave approval to a coup by the army. Elliot Rodger, aged 22, a student at the University of California, Santa Barbara, stabbed three male roommates to death, then shot dead two women and a man in the town, before shooting himself dead. A peat-bog the size of England was discovered in Congo-Brazzaville.
In Egypt, Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, the former army chief who deposed President Mohammed Morsi last year, was elected President. Pope Francis toured the Holy Land, accompanied by a rabbi and an imam from Argentina, praying and calling for peace. ‘Jesus was here, in this land,’ Benjamin Netanyahu, the Prime Minister of Israel, told him in Jerusalem, ‘He spoke Hebrew.’ ‘Aramaic,’ the Pope interjected. Iran hanged a man convicted of embezzling £1.5 billion. It freed six men and women who had ‘hurt public chastity’ by making a video of Pharrell Williams’s song ‘Happy’. CSH