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Pro-EU candidates deserve poll backing

The European election taking place tomorrow is a highly unusual contest which Theresa May intended would never happen and which might yet involve the selection of MEPs who take their posts either briefly or not at all.

Mrs May has been unable to articulate any form of coherent message to voters during the campaign, while Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn's inability to take a firm stance on the crucial question of a second EU referendum has alienated many of his own supporters.

Nigel Farage's newly launched Brexit Party looks destined to benefit significantly from the Conservative disarray while Labour's confused position is likely to give a considerable boost to the Lib Dems.

However, despite all the uncertainty elsewhere, there will still be enormous interest in the final result from the count in the single Northern Ireland constituency which starts on Monday morning.

It is accepted on all sides that the sitting representatives of the two largest parties, the DUP and Sinn Féin, will be returned, but the destination of the third and final seat remains very much open to question.

The decisive vote here in favour of the remain camp during the 2016 poll reflected both the many benefits flowing from EU membership and the huge alarm about what could happen on the border in the event of a UK withdrawal.

Those concerns have increased greatly as a result of the shambolic negotiations subsequently carried out by the British government which will shortly result in the end of Mrs May's career.

We are faced by a crisis of historic proportions, with Tánaiste Simon Coveney warning yesterday that at no point in the last two and a half years had the risk of a disastrous no-deal Brexit been greater.

This newspaper does not endorse individual political parties but supporting avowedly pro-EU candidates tomorrow, and specifically ensuring that transfers are used effectively, would send out a strongly positive message and should be regarded as a priority.

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