Labour slump to 13 points behind Tories as poll shows surge in support for Independent Group
Labour has fallen 13 points behind the Conservatives after a surge in support for the new breakaway Independent Group of MPs, according to a fresh poll.
The YouGov study for The Times puts Jeremy Corbyn's party on 23% - down three points on a week ago - while the Tories fell two points to 36%.
Over the same period, the Independent Group's support has climbed by four points to 18%, while the Liberal Democrats were down one point on 6%.
Meanwhile, more than a quarter (28%) of voters who backed Labour in the 2017 general election said they would switch to the new Independent Group in a vote tomorrow, with 9% of 2017 Tory voters saying they would do the same.
The new poll came as the Independent Group - made up of eight former Labour MPs and three ex-Conservatives - held its first formal meeting in Westminster.
According to The Guardian, the breakaway bloc agreed not to pick a leader until the end of the year.
Ex-Labour MP Chuka Umunna this weekend hinted that he would be willing to take charge, saying: "I’m clear I want to play the biggest role in this group."
But the paper reports that friends of former Conservative Heidi Allen are urging her to put her name forward for the top job.
BLAIR: THE FIGHT IS NOT LOST
Former Prime Minister Tony Blair meanwhile signalled his support for the new group last night, telling an audience in Washington that they had embraced "the spirit of insurgency" against the existing parties.
Taking aim at Jeremy Corbyn, Mr Blair said accused Labour's membership "in thrall to a populism of the left".
He said: "The running sore of the past two years has been the row over anti-semitism with Jewish Labour MPs coming under sustained attack, a truly mind-boggling circumstance for a supposedly progressive political party to find itself in.
"Both manifestations of populism exult in savage denunciation of those who disagree especially within their own ranks.
He added: "But the point is, the fight is not lost. The fightback is under way within the two main parties and outside of them, where last week several MPs defected to form a new political grouping."
Mr Corbyn has urged all those MPs who quit the Labour fold last week to do the "decent and democratic thing" and call by-elections after they decided to "abandon the policies on which they were elected".
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