NIGEL Farage’s Brexit Party and the pro-Remain Liberal Democrats have emerged as the clear winners in the European elections, as support for the Tories and Labour collapsed. 

Early results indicated the Conservatives were headed for a historic defeat, losing most of their seats and sinking towards a single-figure vote share as they were deserted by supporters angry at Theresa May failing to deliver Brexit. 

The results suggested the nation remains deeply divided over the decision to leave the EU.

The Prime Minister’s humiliation was only marginally worse than Jeremy Corbyn’s, as Labour was punished for its ambivalence on the biggest political issue of the day.

Read more: LIVE - European elections 2019 live results in Scotland

Shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry admitted the party had not been clear enough in its message on the doorstep.

The results are likely to influence the Tory leadership contest, pushing candidates towards embracing no-deal to fend off a general election challenge from the Brexit Party.

In Scotland, the SNP won comfortably, improving on its 2014 showing and appeared set to pick up a third MEP, giving it half the country’s representation in Brussels.

It was a vindication for Nicola Sturgeon, who gambled on a “Stop Brexit” campaign despite one-third of her party’s supporters backing Leave in the 2016 referendum. 

Preliminary figures suggested Scottish Labour could lose both its MEPs, with the Tories holding their one, and the Scottish LibDems regaining the seat they lost five years ago.

The LibDems were also big winners UK-wide, rehabilitated after their near wipe-out in 2014, to come second ahead of Labour. 

The LibDems even beat Labour in London, winning three MEPs to Labour’s two. Ukip, which won the 2014 election under Mr Farage with 27.5 per cent of the vote and 24 MEPs, was obliterated. 

Read more: Analysis: Sturgeon will be pleased - but so too will Farage

Turn-out in the proportional ballot was higher than the 35% seen in 2014, particularly in Remain areas, pointing to a backlash against Brexit.

In Wales, the new Labour First Minister Mark Drakeford appeared to suffer a major defeat in his first electoral test as his party came behind the Nationalists of Plaid Cymru.

The Brexit Party’s success came alongside more modest advances for populist Eurosceptic parties elsewhere in Europe.

However there were still major losses predicted for the centrist groups in Brussels.

The centre-right European People’s party and centre left Socialists and Democrats lost their combined majority, with wins for Liberals and Greens. 

Exit polls suggested Marine Le Pen’s far-right National Rally party narrowly won the vote in France, pushing

President Macron’s En Marche into second place.

Far-right parties made gains, but not on the scale some had predicted. 

The far-right blogger Tommy Robinson lost his bid to become an Independent MEP in north-west England.

The recriminations inside Labour started before the results for the UK were announced shortly after 10pm.

Read more: Every Scottish local authority result

John Howarth, the Labour MEP for South East England, issued a statement savaging his party, saying candidates and members “deserved better” and an apology.

He said: “Had Labour’s ‘high command’ set out to lose an election they could have gone about it in a more convincing way. 

“These elections were there to be won, that victory was squandered and a key opportunity to stake a claim as the party of government in waiting was lost.”

Mr Howarth accused Labour HQ of insulting the intelligence of voters by trying to fight a different election to
 the one on the ballot party, pursuing a “suicidal central message”.

He added: “It is unclear how Labour will move on and recover from this position. As for a general election, I would say, not for the first time, be careful what you wish for.” 

In an article for the Observer, Labour deputy Tom Watson also attacked his party’s position, provoking a row with one of Mr Corbyn’s staunchest trade union defenders.

Mr Watson said: “Our performance is a direct result of our mealy-mouthed backing for a public vote on Brexit when it is being demanded loud and clear by the overwhelming majority of our members and voters.

“We must channel our frustration into winning those voters back. Never again can Labour policy on the most crucial issue of our generation be on the wrong side of its members and voters.”

Unite general Len McCluskey accused Mr Watson of trying to undermine Mr Corbyn.

He told the BBC: “Tom Watson’s already out – surprise, surprise – trying to take on the role of Prince Machiavelli. But I’ve got news for Tom. Machiavelli was effective. 

The failure of Change UK, the Remain party of former Labour and Tory MPs, to make headway prompted its leader to suggest allying with the LibDems.

Heidi Allen said she would like to form “a collective... with like-minded colleagues”, telling the BBC: “I would like us to be in the same vehicle”.

Asked if that meant the same party, she replied: “Yeah, probably, I don’t know.” 

She predicted a wave of Tory defections if Boris Johnson became prime minister.

The early results were released after the last polls closed in Europe, where 400 million people were electing 751 MEPs.

The UK was not expected to participate because of Brexit, and some its MEP spaces were due to be redistributed among other nations. It means some MEPs have been elected as shadow politicians, waiting in the wings until Brexit allows them to take their seats.

At the last European election in 2014, Ukip won 24 of the UK’s 73 MEPs with 27.5% of the vote, Labour won 20 with 25%, the Tories 19 with 24%, and the Greens three with 8%.

In Scotland in 2014, the SNP won two MEPs with a 29% vote share, Labour two with 26%, the Tories one on 17% and Ukip one on 10%.