Labour risks ‘worst election result since 1930s’ if party's MPs back Brexit, major poll finds
Labour’s support could plummet to its lowest in decades if the party's MPs backs a Brexit deal agreed by the Government, a major new study has found.
A YouGov poll of more than 25,000 people revealed that Jeremy Corbyn’s party could see its support fall below that won in 1983 under Michael Foot, representing its worst electoral performance since the 1930s.
The study, which was conducted over the Christmas period and commissioned by the People's Vote campaign for a second Brexit referendum, comes ahead of the Commons meaningful vote on Theresa May’s deal this month.
Mr Corbyn’s frontbench has vowed to oppose the deal as it stands but has left open the option of agreeing to a tweaked arrangement.
The research found Labour trail the Tories at 40% to 34% as it stands, with the figure falling to 26% if Labour MPs vote with the Tories to bring about Brexit.
Giving MPs a free vote would make little difference, with support remaining at 26% - 17 points behind the Conservatives on 43%, leading to a huge Tory majority.
The Labour leader is leader is meanwhile facing mounting pressure from his own ranks, with the study also showing that a second EU referendum is backed by 75% of Labour voters.
'MASS EXODUS' WARNING
The figure comes as the Observer reports that 5,000 Labour members and supporters contacted the party ahead of its national policy forum later this week, with some warning about the impact of Brexit on its fortunes.
One submission, from the chair of Devizes Labour party, warned the party leadership they risked a “mass exodus” over Labour’s “reluctance to take a more proactive role in the campaign to force a people’s vote on this issue.”
Elsewhere the poll found that 53% of British voters would prefer being given a second referendum on how to proceed with Brexit, while 47% believe it should be settled by MPs, when excluding “don’t knows”.
And it found that 54% back staying in the EU, while 46% back leaving, excluding those who did not know.
David Lammy, a Labour MP and a leading supporter of the People’s Vote campaign, said the latest poll should act as a “sobering wake-up call” for Labour and Conservative ministers.
“With only a few months until we crash out of the EU, our party is still sitting on the fence,” he said.
“On the biggest issue of our generation, Labour risks complicity in the Conservative Party’s historic mistake.
“Although we are in opposition, due to the Government's weakness, we have the opportunity to save our country from catastrophe and so we should seize it with both hands.
“If we do not, this poll shows it is Labour, not the Tories, that will be punished at the ballot box.”
“We not only risk fatally harming our chances at the next election, we will betray millions of voters – particularly the young – who saw us as a beacon of hope and put their trust in us only 18 months ago. The time for prevarication and pussyfooting around on Brexit has long passed - we must now give voice to the clear majority of people who are demanding a final say.”
A Labour spokesperson said: “As unanimously agreed at conference, if Theresa May’s botched Brexit deal is voted down in parliament then a general election should be called.
“In line with the policy agreed at conference, if the Conservatives block a general election then we will keep all options on the table, including the option of campaigning for a public vote.”