Blow for Theresa May as poll shows Tories face European elections drubbing
The Conservatives face being humbled while Labour would soar ahead if European Parliament elections are held in the UK next month, according to a new poll.
Theresa May hopes to get her deal through ahead of 23 May so that Britain does not have to take part, however it appears increasingly likely that the UK will need to send MEPs to Brussels as part of an agreed extension with the bloc.
A poll for Open Europe found that fewer than one in four voters (23%) would opt for the Tories, while Jeremy Corbyn’s party would rake in 38% of the vote.
The squeeze on Tory votes may come from a surge in support for Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party, which is set to bag just over 10% of the public’s backing while his former party Ukip, is down to take 7.5%.
After their initial voting intention had been recorded, 48.1% of Leave voters later revealed in the survey that they were either likely or very likely to support the Brexit Party.
The last elections, in 2014, saw Ukip prevail above the main parties, with more than 26% of the vote - although they were closely followed by Labour on 24%, and the Tories again achieved 23%.
The study found that turnout would likely be low next month, with just 35.2% of respondents saying they were 10/10 likely to vote.
Those who voted Remain in 2016 were more likely to put themselves in the 'likely' category compared to Leavers however – at 46.9% to 37.8% respectively.
Traditional Conservative voters are also more likely to show little interest in voting – with 12% saying they had a 1/10 likelihood of voting, compared with 6.4% of Labour voters, and 3.4% of Lib Dems.
Despite being the most outwardly pro-EU party, the Liberal Democrats would pick up just over 8% of the vote, while Change UK, the group of disaffected Labour and Tory pro-European MPs, known until recently as The Independent Group, would rake in over 4%.
The poll also showed that 33.4% of Remain voters were either likely or very likely to support Change UK, when they were asked later in the survey about them.
Open Europe Director, Henry Newman said: “Right across the EU, European elections are seen by voters as an opportunity to register a protest. Assuming Brexit is further delayed and the UK is forced to hold elections for new MEPs, those elections will give the public a chance to send a message on Brexit.
“These early results suggest that Labour are on track for a strong performance in the European elections, with the Conservative vote significantly squeezed.
“The Brexit party and Change UK - new challenger parties at either extreme of the Brexit debate are likely to do well, allowing them to secure a foothold in elected national politics. Nearly half of Leave voters said they were ‘likely’ to support the Brexit party and a third of Remain voters Change UK”.