VOTERS across the UK will go to the polls today to elect Members of the European Parliament.

How does the voting system work in England, Scotland and Wales?

Unlike the first-past-the-post system used in general elections, the European contests use the D'Hondt system, a form of proportional representation.

Voters choose a single party and the number of elected candidates from each party's list depends upon the proportion of votes cast.

In the first round of counting the party with the most votes wins a seat for the candidate at the top of its list.

In the next round, that party's vote is divided by two, if it is still top it gains another seat, if not then whichever rival now has the most gets a seat.

At each subsequent round, the process repeats itself, with the original vote of the winning party in each round being divided by one plus their running total of MEPs, until all the seats for the region have been allocated.

Here are all the candidates standing in the North-East.


Brian Monteith is a 61-year-old international communications specialist who has worked the last 12 years in developing nations across Africa and Asia.

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As a writer and political commentator he also has regular columns in The Scotsman, Daily Business and CityAM and has published three books.

Mr Monteith started his PR career in the City during the early 1980s before running various communications businesses.

He served eight years in the Scottish Parliament before retiring from politics in 2007. He then worked in Botswana as a consultant to its government, as well as in Trinidad & Tobago, Pakistan, Uganda and Nigeria, where his assignments included promoting solar powered schools in remote locations.

He said he is particularly motivated by Brexit being a force for good at home and internationally by encouraging greater open trade.

John Tennant was born in the North-East and went to secondary school in Gateshead. After studying history at university he wanted to concentrate his efforts in fighting for independence from the European Union.

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He said: "After the referendum victory in 2016, a culmination of years of hard work, I and many others believed that our Parliament would honour the decision of a majority vote. They have failed to do so and that is why I’m standing as a Brexit Party candidate for my home region.

"Currently I am an independent councillor in Hartlepool, a town that voted 70 per cent to leave the EU.

"In my time as a councillor I have played a part in supporting a better mental health plan for residents and continuing to fight for the return of maternity services at our local hospital."

Richard Monaghan was born in council flats in East London in 1952. Following education at the local grammar school, Mr Monaghan went on to study a joint-honours degree in geology and economics in Sunderland, where he graduated in 1975.

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He later trained to become a member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England & Wales.

Mr Monaghan has worked at director level for a number of companies in the oil, commodities and derivatives sectors, before opting for self-employment as a management consultant, principally via his own company, Monaghan Financial Associates Limited.

Mr Monaghan also volunteers with several charities.


Frances Weetman is an economist, writer and film maker and says she has a passion for bringing democracy closer to people.

Born and raised in the North-East, the 27-year-old began her career in finance, working for HSBC and Nomura, while she studied economics and politics at Durham University.

After graduation, instead of taking up a graduate banking job offer she worked as an educational film producer before being elected as councillor in Tynemouth.

In 2016 she won the Virago New Statesman Prize for her economics commentary, which awarded her a publishing contract.

Her first book, on economics, was published by Virago in 2017. In 2018, she became the first elected Labour representative to resign their party membership in protest at the party’s alleged failure to tackle anti-Semitism.

Penny Hawley was involved in European decision-making when she was director-general of the UK trade association for manufacturers of biscuits, cake, chocolate and confectionery.

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She was responsible for finding the common ground among competitors to develop and agree industry policy as well as acting as spokesperson.

After her children were born at Newcastle's Royal Victoria Infirmary, she moved to Northumberland in 2008 and was a hands-on mum while running her own communications business.

She joined Durham University in 2015, where she works with graduates from the Business School creating connections between the North-East and the rest of the world.

Standing for Change UK is her first experience of being involved in a political party and she hopes to be able to apply her experience of bringing people together to change the political system.

Kathryn Heywood is an analyst and business intelligence professional with experience in the civil service and higher education.

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She comes to politics fresh from a career spent in the higher education sector. She served two governments through her role as a statistician in the Civil Service, informing and evaluating higher education policy, advising ministers, and working extensively with funding councils and external agencies.

Latterly, as Durham University’s business intelligence manager, she ensures that the university strategy, plans, forecasts and key decisions are based on sound evidence, with the right technical support for analysts.

Ms Heywood has a degree and PhD in physics from Durham University and has lived in the North-East for 20 years.


Richard Lawrie came to live in County Durham in 1999 and is vice-master and senior tutor of University College at Durham University, which he joined in 2005. His work focuses on the welfare and development of students, alongside some teaching in history of art.

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He said: “I see on a regular basis the pressures placed on young people in our society, and the positive benefits access to university can have on those from deprived backgrounds.”

As a Conservative, he stood as the candidate for the City of Durham constituency in the 2017 General Election, and is currently the chairman of the City of Durham and Easington Conservative Association.

He said: “I am a firm supporter of Brexit, and fundamentally believe in freedom, justice, equality before the law, and checks and balances within our systems of government. I see it as the role of a politician to contribute to upholding these in our country."

Chris Galley has worked for Shell for 36 years and is now head of logistics scheduling for its global companies.

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He joined the Conservative Party as a teenager, being attracted to the party’s positions on free enterprise, personal responsibility and individual freedom.

He stood for the Conservatives against Ian Lavery in Wansbeck in the 2015 and 2017 general elections.

He lives on the Otterburn Ranges, Northumberland, where he runs his family’s upland sheep station. His favourite breed is Zwartbles.

Mr Galley is also a member of the Church of England, the National Farmers Union and Amnesty International.

Outside politics his interests are rugby and indie music.

Duncan Carlyle Crutes is the owner and director of Crutes la Mar, a retail clothing organisation based in Newcastle.

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He is born and bred in the city but studied at the University of Strathclyde, in Glasgow.

Before he started his own tailoring company, he worked in a marketing consultancy.

In 2017, he stood in the General Election as the Conservative Party candidate for Newcastle.


Rachel Featherstone is the lead candidate for the North-East Green Party. She is 42 years old, has lived in Sunderland all her life and has two children.

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In the past, she has worked on market stalls, factory floors, in shops and in call centres. She returned to higher education as a mature student with a young child. She is currently a senior lecturer in research methods at a local university.

Rachel has been an active trade unionist and has campaigned against racism and austerity in the region. She joined the Green Party eight years ago and is the coordinator for Sunderland Green Party as well as the North-East's female representative on their national governance committee. Her chief concerns are climate change and inequality. She believes that remaining in the EU will be key to tackling both.

Jonathan Elmer moved to the North-East in the 1990s where he has married and has two children both attending Durham Johnston School.

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He works as a freelance ecologist and is a councillor elected onto the City of Durham Parish Council. Outside of elections, Jonathan spends much of his time working to stop what he believes are inappropriate road and housing development on Durham’s green spaces.

He started his career with Great Aycliffe Town Council, then established a countryside team with Sedgefield Borough Council, and later went into the position of sustainable development manager with Durham City Council. He left his career with councils shortly after the formation of Durham County Council.

Jonathan is a passionate campaigner for remaining in Europe, saying it represents the only sensible pathway for tackling climate change globally.

Dawn Furness was born and bred in Cramlington. She has worked as a music teacher, performer and filmmaker across the region for the last 20 years.

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Having studied physics and music technology at Manchester and Newcastle universities, she graduated from the EAVE producer training programme and has since produced four feature films and two award-winning UKFC shorts.

With active interests in solar technology, wind and tidal capture and other forms of renewable, clean energy, Dawn joined the Green Party after becoming increasingly concerned with the rise of anti-immigration rhetoric. She believes these have overshadowed the real issues facing the country, namely jobs, housing, and the imminent climate crisis.

She is passionate about regenerating the Blyth Valley region of South East Northumberland.


Jude Kirton-Darling MEP grew up on Teesside, is a working mother-of-one and has been a Labour MEP since 2014.

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She is passionate about the North-East its social and industrial heritage and its future.

Her father worked as an engineer in the energy sector and her mother instilled in her the values of a fair day's work for a fair day’s pay.

Jude has made workers’ rights a key focus during her time in Brussels. She was part of the Save Our Steel campaign in Redcar and took on McDonald’s use of zero-hours contracts. She has been hitting the campaign trail with her two-year old son in tow, making the case for Labour MEPs' commitment to putting the North-East first for however long the UK remains in the EU.

Paul Brannen MEP grew up on Tyneside. After inheriting an interest in social justice from his dad he became active in progressive politics while a student at Leeds University and went on to work for the anti-apartheid movement, where he disrupted the rebel cricket tour of South Africa and was lucky enough to meet Nelson Mandela after his release from prison.

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He has also worked for anti-poverty organisations, including campaigning on tax justice, introducing fair trade policies and seeing the effects of climate change in the developing world.

He became an MEP five years ago and has worked in the European Parliament to create more quality green jobs in the North-East, tackle climate change and improving the environment.

Clare Penny-Evans grew up in County Durham and has worked across the North-East from Middlesbrough to Northumberland.

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She started as a volunteer with her local Citizens Advice Bureau in North Tyneside which led to a successful career in the advice sector and she has continued to work with voluntary and community organisations for more than 20 years, including to support young people and those affected by homelessness. As well as being a Labour MEP candidate, Clare works part time for Skills for People, a charity supporting people with learning disabilities and their families.

She is a Labour councillor on Newcastle City Council, and is cabinet member for communities.


Fiona Hall was the Lib Dem MEP from 2004 to 2014.

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Since her last post as MEP Ms Hall has worked as an advisor on EU energy efficiency and climate policy.

She took part in lobbying the EU Commission’s backing for zero EU greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. Ms Hall publicly supports the Liberal Democrat’s view to stop Brexit. Ahead of the European Parliament elections, Ms Hall said: “Our society is broken. We have a lot of work to do in the UK to restore cohesion and make sure that the economic and social benefits of being in the EU are enjoyed by everyone.

"This task is extremely urgent. Rapid change is needed to tackle the climate emergency. This change must bring positive improvements for everyone – including cleaner air, warmer homes and better health.”

Julie Porksen has actively campaigned against the Conservatives’ under-occupancy charge, or so-called bedroom tax, and closures of local health services, and previously stood in the 2015 and 2017 General Elections.

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Ms Porksen said: “I am Northumbrian, a Northerner and British, with a German father and eight different nationalities amongst my cousins. This illustrates the fantastic freedom Europe offers, to live, love, work, study, travel and trade across so many communities. I believe this freedom should be a fundamental human right for us as Europeans and want to ensure our next generation do not lose their rights.”

Ms Porksen said she wanted to protect Sunderland’s Nissan plant, the North-East NHS, universities, farming, tourism in the region.

Aidan King, who previously worked as pharmacist and later progressed into the role of an NHS doctor, has spent his later years working on the Remain campaign.

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He has since been campaigning for the construction of a new GP surgery for his home ward, which he represents on Newcastle City Council. He has been vocal on his views over the way the Conservative government is handling Brexit, and more recently became involved in the people’s vote march in Sunderland.

This is the first time Mr King is running for election as an MEP and hopes to stop Brexit. Mr King believes Brexit will cause North-East residents to become poorer and less secure.


Richard Elvin has been a UKIP member for 20 years, campaigning to leave what he describes as the ever increasing shackles of the EU.

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He said: “We have been spectacularly betrayed by the establishment and I hope, if elected, I will never have to take up this North-East MEP position because we will have left the EU in accordance with the mandate of the British people on June 23, 2016.

"However, should we not leave yet, I am confident the lifelong skills acquired as a teacher and running my own successful travel business, as well as being a councillor in local government for 14 years, make me more highly equipped to ensure the North-East, which has been my home for many years, gets a fair deal whilst continuing the fight to become an independent and sovereign nation."

Alan Breeze is a graduate engineer and web developer currently working for a web development and CCTV installation company.

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His previous career was in manufacturing. He says he has seen the EU systematically destroy the manufacturing industry in the UK by encouraging global brand names to relocate to Central Europe, limiting the wealth creation capabilities of the UK.

He said: "I joined the UKIP team in 2014 to work with like-minded people to bring the control of our country back from the EU.

"I have met UKIP members all over the country and simply do not recognise the profile of a typical member portrayed by the mainstream media.

"If elected to the EU Parliament I will work hard in the interests of UK citizens but with a primary purpose of leaving the all pervasive EU federal super state."

Chris Gallacher has had two main themes to his working life – engineering and the military.

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He served in the Army, as both a regular and territorial, for a total of 42 years. In his civilian side, he worked for large petro-chemical operations at home and abroad and ran his own computer aided design company for many years.

He said he would bring empathy to the Brexit process having lived and worked for most of his life in the region, and added: "As a UKIP candidate, I fully endorse the policies my party stands for, in particular our long standing position on leaving the EU."