ELECTIONS to the European Parliament take place in Barrow, South Lakeland and Copeland on Thursday, May 23.

Sixty one candidates across nine parties, with two independents, are bidding to win one of just eight seats to represent the North West in the European Parliament.

The MEPs chosen will represent Cumbria, Cheshire, Greater Manchester, Lancashire and Merseyside, with five million electors across the region able to vote.

Nine political parties are putting candidates forward including Change UK, the Conservatives, English Democrats, Greens, Labour, Liberal Democrats, Brexit Party, UK European Union and UKIP.

TWO independents are also standing as individual candidates. The UK as a whole has 73 MEPs of 751 in the European Parliament representing the 28 EU-member countries.

Jon Huck, returning officer at Barrow Borough Council, said polling day will be Thursday, May 23. Following the closure of the polls at 10pm, verification will take place overnight at Barrow Town Hall.

On Sunday, May 26, the votes cast in the borough will take place at Barrow Town Hall. It has to be held on the Sunday to align with the rest of Europe.

The count will start at 6pm on Sunday and the provisional Barrow result will be communicated to the regional returning officer in Manchester.

Mr Huck said the earliest that provisional results from the local counting areas can be shared with candidates and agents will be 10pm, this is because the polls close in some other European countries at this time.

“Once this has happened, allowing for any recounts, the result of the Barrow in Furness local count can then be declared. The overall regional result will be declared in Manchester once all the local counts have been completed and results confirmed and collated.”  The results for the North West region will take place in Manchester on Sunday, May 26, after polls close across Europe.

The eight North West MEPs currently are Labour’s Theresa Griffin, of Liverpool; UKIP’s Paul Nuttall, of Liverpool; the Conservatives Jacqueline Foster, of Bromborough; Labour’s Wajid Khan, of Manchester.

Louise Bours, of the Europe of Freedom and Direct Democracy Group; Labour’s Julie Ward, of Manchester; Conservative Sajjad Karim, of Manchester, and Independent Steven Woolfe, of Chester.

List of candidates standing in 2019

Those with asterisk are sitting MEPs

Change UK: Andrea Cooper, Dan Price, Arun Banerji, Michael Taylor, Philippa Olive, Victoria Desmond, Andrew Graystone and Elisabeth Knight

Conservatives: *Sajjad Karim, Kevin Beaty, Jane Howard, Arnold Saunders, Wendy Maisey, Thomas Lord, Anthony Pickles and Attika Choudhary

English Democrats: Stephen Morris and Valerie Morris

Green: Gina Dowding, Wendy Olsen, Jessica Northey, Geraldine Coggings, Rosie Mills, Astrid Johnsoln, Daniel Jerrome and James Booth

Labour: *Theresa Griffin, *Julie Ward, *Wajid Khan, Erica Lewis, David Brennan, Claire Cozler, Saf Ismail, Yvonne Tennant

Liberal Democrats: Chris Davies, Jane Brophy, Helen Foster-Grime, Anna Fryer, Sam Al-Hamdani, Rebecca Forrest, John Studholme and Frederick Van Mierlo

The Brexit Party: Claire Fox, Henrik Overgaard Nielsen, David Bull, Gary Harvey, Ajay Jagota, Elizabeth Babade, Sally Bate and John Kelly

UK European Party: Sophie Larroque

UKIP: Adam Richardson, Jeff Armstrong, Fiona Mills, Nathan Ryding, Michael Felse, Ben Fryer, John Booker, Alexander Craig

Independent: Mohmmad Aslam, Tommy Robinson

The full list of candidates can be viewed at www.northwestvotes.gov.uk

Q1: How often are the European Elections:

A: Elections take place across the EU every five years under a system of proportional representation.

Q2: What do MEPs actually do?

A: MEPs have the power to make European laws in nearly all areas of EU activity, together with the council of the European Union. The European Parliament also approves the budget of the European Union, elects the European Commissioners and the Commission President and has the power to sack the whole body of commissioners.

Q3: If we are leaving the EU, why hold these elections?

The UK was due to leave the EU on March 29, but because a deal was not agreed by Parliament, the EU extended the deadline to October 31.

Because it will not have left by May 23 – when Europe goes to the polls - it is legally obliged to take part and to send MEPs to Brussels.

There are reports that if Brexit is completed before 30 June, UK MEPs will not take up their seats at all. If it is done after that date but before the UK Parliament begins its summer recess in July, MEPs will only need to sit for a month, until August 1.

Q4: How many votes do I have?

Voters have one vote only, and this can be cast for either a political party or an independent candidate. Each political party puts forward a list of candidates and the number of MEPs that are elected from each party to represent the North West will depend on the overall share of the vote that party receives.

Q5: How does the voting work?

On 23 May, the ballot papers received by the 39 local Returning Officers across the North West will be counted in local count centres and the number of votes cast for each party or independent candidate will be collated in Manchester by the Regional Returning Officer for the North West. The party with the highest number of votes is allocated the first seat. The candidate at the top of the party's list is elected.

The European Parliament was directly elected for the first time in 1979 and the last election was on Thursday May 22, 2014. Back then, the UK voted in 73 MEPs from its 12 constituencies.

Flashback to 2014

In the European elections in 2014, no fewer than 11 parties put forward candidates. Voters in Barrow were able to choose from both the traditional parties and others including No2EU, the Pirate Party, the Socialist Equality Party, an Independence from Europe party and the British National Party. Across the borough of Barrow, there were more than 12,300 votes cast in the European elections. Labour got the most votes in the town with 4,297 with UKIP in second place with 4096 and the Conservatives in third on 2437. The BNP got 88 votes less than the Liberal Democrats on 264. The issue of the UK’s role in Europe was also played out in Barrow during the EU Referendum on June 23, 2016.

21,867 in the borough of Barrow voted to the Leave the EU, equivalent to 60.6% of the vote. 14.207 people voted to remain in the EU, equivalent to 39.4% of the vote. The turnout in Barrow was 67.8%. Five of Cumbria’s six districts all voted to leave – Allerdale, Carlisle, Copeland and Eden, along with Barrow. Only South Lakeland voted to remain. 34,531 voters there opted to stay, equivalent to 52.9% of the vote, compared to 47.1 per cent, or 30,800 who voted to leave.