Major shock as Lib Dems take the lead in new opinion poll

Posted On: 
31st May 2019

The Lib Dems have taken the lead in an opinion poll for the first time in nine years.

In a major shock, the YouGov survey for The Times puts the party on 24%, with the Brexit Party second on 22%.

Labour and the Tories are joint-third on 19%, according to the poll, while the Greens are fourth on 8%.

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The last time the Lib Dems led a UK-wide poll was in the run-up to the 2010 general election at the height of "Cleggmania".

Five years of coalition government with the Conservatives, during which time they were associated with unpopular policies such as the trebling of tuition fees, left the party in the doldrums.

However, the Government's failure to implement Brexit, as well as Labour's apparent confusion on the issue, has seen a surge in support for the pro-EU Lib Dems as well as the Brexit Party.

After a strong showing at the local elections at the start of May, the Lib Dems came second in last weeks European elections, with the Brexit Party in first place.

Anthony Wells, director of political research at YouGov, told The Times it was the first time that two parties had come ahead of the Tories and Labour.

"Despite this breakthrough I’d urge some caution before reading the last rites over Britain’s two party system," he said. "Much of today’s poll findings will be the result of the immediate short-term impact of the European election results.

"The Liberal Democrats and Brexit Party have had a solid boost of publicity, look like winners and, perhaps most importantly, the election shows they are not wasted votes, one of the perennial obstacles for any challenger party.

"In time these things will weaken. The election results will fade from memory, the focus of day-to-day politics will move back to the traditional parties as the Conservatives elect their new leader, and coverage of politics will again be dominated by the battle between Labour and the Conservatives in the House of Commons. In the medium term, I would expect to see Labour and the Conservatives back ahead."

He added: "Don’t write off the traditional party system just yet - it is, after all, only two years since Labour and the Conservatives won a combined 82% of the votes in the election fought after the EU referendum.

"However, its foundations are looking shakier than I can ever remember and the challenge of delivering Brexit remains ahead."

Lib Dem MP Ed Davey, who is running to be the party's new leader, said: "This is definitive proof that Lib Dems are back in the game. Our campaign to stop Brexit and fix Britain is resonating with millions of voters who have been let down by the two main parties.

"As Lib Dem leader I would capitalise on this success and build a strong liberal movement for the future, focused on tackling climate change and rebuilding our our public services."