Massive blow for Theresa May as Brexit Party beats Tories in general election poll
The new Brexit Party led by Nigel Farage is on course to win nearly 50 seats at the next general election after overtaking the Conservatives in a national poll for the first time.
In a major blow to Theresa May, just 19% of people told the ComRes survey they would vote for the Tories at the next election, compared with 20% who said they would back the hardline eurosceptic movement.
The results, published in the Sunday Telegraph, show the damage done to the Conservatives after the Prime Minister failed to deliver Brexit on time, with the future of the UK’s departure from the EU still unclear.
Labour topped the poll with 27% support, meaning it would win 316 seats at an election - enough to form a minority government - compared with 179 for the Tories and 49 for the Brexit Party.
The Brexit Party is meanwhile on course to win the European Parliament elections on 23 May, with 27% support compared with 25% for Labour and just 13% for the Tories, which is less than the Lib Dems (14%).
In a general election, senior Tories such as party chair Brandon Lewis, Defence Secretary Penny Mordaunt and Health Secretary Matt Hancock would lose their seats to the Brexit Party, according to the poll results.
Meanwhile, the likes of Boris Johnson, Iain Duncan Smith and senior Tory backbencher Sir Graham Brady would lose their seats to Labour.
ComRes chair Andrew Hawkins said: “This is a disaster for the Conservative party. Worse still, it was entirely foreseen.”
He added: “The longer Theresa May is in denial about the danger her party faces, the harder it will be to recover lost voters - and the more likely the Brexit Party will succeed in its aim of getting a foothold in Westminster.
“If the Conservative leadership contenders are not careful, there will be no party for them to lead.”
Mr Hawkins said key factors in the dire poll result for the Tories included the failure by the PM to deliver Brexit and her attempt to broker a deal with Jeremy Corbyn.
He noted that a change of Tory leadership could offer a glimmer of hope for the party, with 53% of respondents saying Mrs May should accept she cannot deliver Brexit and step down.
The poll was commissioned by anti-EU pressure group Brexit Express, which is run by Jeremy Hosking, a major Tory donor who has now given £200,000 to the Brexit Party.
In a separate Opinium poll for the Observer, the Conservatives slumped to just 11% - far outstripped by the Brexit Party, which was at 34%, and still miles behind Labour, which was at 21%.