THE Labour Party were not the dominant political party in the North-East's European elections for the first time since the regional constituencies were formed in 1999.

The party lost one of its two seats as the newly-formed Brexit Party dominated nationally, occupying two of the three seats in the region.

Judith Kirton-Darling did, however, retain her seat, but Labour colleague Paul Brannen will not serve another term as MEP.

During her acceptance speech, Mrs Kirton-Darling said the result was a big blow to the Labour party, whose indecisiveness over Brexit has deterred a lot of voters.

Her speech in full is as follows:

“This election was never going to be easy - for many it shouldn’t have happened at all. For others it has become a second referendum, with parties promising what those elected can’t deliver, whether Leave or Remain. The Tories’ Brexit psychodrama is tearing us apart as a country. 

"In reality, this is an election about representation; about who speaks up for the North-East in the European Parliament. I am proud to stand by the record of Labour MEPs from the North-East - over the last five years, we have led and delivered on tax justice, climate action and improved workers rights. I am proud of the hard work our team have done, often in difficult and uncertain circumstances. And I’m proud of Paul Brannen, who has been a strong voice for this region with innovative thinking about how climate action can be used for regeneration and job creation. Together, we have shown that politicians are not all about ego promotion but can cooperate to deliver an added value for our constituents. Thanks to the many members and constituents who have engaged with us and campaigned for us.

"This has not been a normal election but it has shown the weakness of our position on Brexit. People don’t know what we stand for. I have had to convince Labour Party members as well as Labour voters to support us. We must heed the message that our voters don’t want a Tory Brexit. If we don’t let the public back in to decide what happens next with Brexit, they will abandon us before we can deliver a government capable of delivering the transformative change this region and country need and bring us back together.

"On May Day, I addressed activists in Durham and said “Some would have you believe that the values and principles you have always stood by are now obsolete because all our politics can now be broken down to a binary choice fixed on the June 23, 2016. That’s b******s. If you sit out the EP elections because it’s too hard or you split the vote for Labour, the only victory will be for Farage’s values.” Those values are no more evident than the fact that tonight we have elected a man who cares not for this region, who lives inside the rest of the EU, benefitting from the free movement that he wants stripped from our young people. A hypocrite acting for the few not the many. 

"Labour has a good story to sell about what we have delivered in the EU. By not fighting this election with all our political might we have left the space for others. The North-East has no affection for the Lib Dems and their austerity, but we have allowed them to rise like Lazarus despite their responsibility for the austerity which has hurt our most vulnerable communities hardest.

"Tonight’s result is not an endorsement of our Brexit policy but a final warning that it must change.”