European elections: When the North East results will be announced - and why we have to wait until Sunday when voting takes place on Thursday

Voters will be going to the polls tomorrow in possibly the most frenetic European Parliament elections in history.
European Elections 2019European Elections 2019
European Elections 2019

Voters in the North East will be choosing three MEPs to represent them in the European Parliament - though how long they get to serve in those positions remains to be seen, as Prime Minister Theresa May tries to find a way forward for Brexit.

When are polling stations open?

Polling stations are open from 7am to 10pm on Thursday May 23.

When are the results announced? And why?

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Although voting takes place on Thursday, we have to wait until Sunday before the results are announced.

This is because each member state has its own election customs, and most member states stage elections on a Sunday.

Only the UK and the Netherlands will be voting on Thursday. Ireland has elections on Friday, Latvia, Malta, Slovakia and Czech Republic on Saturday, and all the rest on Sunday.

What time will the results come in?

Results can be officially declared on Sunday May 26 from 10pm onwards.

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In most areas of the UK, votes will have been counted earlier in the day and the results passed to one of the regional declaration centres.

Once final checks and calculations have been completed, the returning officer at the declaration centre will then announce the result for their region.

North East England is expected to be the first region to declare. The result in 2014 came at 10.15pm.

Sunderland is the headquarters for the North East count, with the results being announced at the tennis centre in Silksworth.

Who are our MEPs at present?

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Three seats are up for grabs in the North East. Currently we have two Labour MEPs, Jude Kirton-Darling and Paul Brannen, and Jonathon Arnott, who was elected for Ukip but left the party. He is not seeking reelection, but will be voting for The Brexit Party.

If Labour loses one or both of its seats, it could signal a collapse of the party's support in its former northern heartlands.

When will the full results be in for the UK?

Yorkshire & the Humber (six seats) is likely to be the second region to declare, at around 11pm.

East of England (seven seats) and the East Midlands (five seats) are expected to declare around 11.30pm. Both could see the Brexit Party make gains from the Conservatives, particularly in the East of England where the Tories are defending three seats.

The Welsh results are expected around midnight.

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Labour, Plaid Cymru, the Tories and the Brexit Party are each defending one seat in Wales. Will any of them manage to pick up a second - or be wiped out entirely?

The West Midlands (seven seats) is also due to declare around midnight.

North West England (eight seats) and South East England (10 seats) should have declared by 1am.

In both regions Labour and the Tories are likely to be squeezed by the Brexit Party on one side and the Liberal Democrats and Greens on the other.

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South East England was the only region of the UK in 2014 to elect a Liberal Democrat and the party will be keen to hang on to its seat, and possibly add another.

London is likely to declare soon after 2am.

There are eight seats up for grabs, four of which are being defended by Labour and two by the Tories.

The Lib Dems, Greens, Change UK and the Brexit Party all fancy their chances here, and, once all the votes are counted, the political make-up of the capital's MEPs could be radically changed.

Scotland will declare on Monday around 11am

Scotland (six seats) will take longer to declare than the rest of England and Wales, because the Western Isles will not begin counting results until Monday.

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The official result is not due to be announced until late morning, but local results will give a sense of how the parties are performing.

The SNP is defending two seats and are hoping to gain a third, while the Tories could lose their one seat.

Monday morning is also when counting gets under way in Northern Ireland.

By 6pm, Tuesday May 28

Northern Ireland has three seats, all of which are likely to have been allocated by late Tuesday afternoon.

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A different system of proportional representation is used in Northern Ireland, meaning seats are allocated over a sequence of counts rather than all at once.

The first seat is likely to be allocated by Monday evening, with the second and third on Tuesday.