Fresh polling woe for Corbyn as Tories maintain huge lead over Labour
Labour’s polling problems are continuing, with a survey today putting Jeremy Corbyn’s party some 16 points behind the Conservatives.
Although the YouGov poll saw the Conservatives unchanged on 40 points, Labour slipped two points to just 24, their joint lowest score since Mr Corbyn became leader in September 2015.
Meanwhile the Liberal Democrats’ strong performances in council by-elections have yet to be reflected in the national picture, with Tim Farron’s party trailing Ukip on 11%.
Ukip have gained a couple of points to put themselves on 14% ahead of the key by-election in Stoke-on-Trent Central, where party leader Paul Nuttall is aiming to win the party's second seat in Westminster.
The survey was taken on 5-6 February, before Mr Corbyn produced one of his best PMQs performances to date, surprising Theresa May with a series of text messages from the Tory leader of Surrey County Council.
Labour insiders have admitted the party faces a tough battle in the Potteries, an area which voted strongly in favour of leaving the EU in last year’s referendum.
According to YouGov’s data, only 11% of those who voted Leave support Labour, compared to 51% for the Tories and 29% for Ukip.
The eurosceptics have piled plenty of resources into the campaign, with a spokesman telling PoliticsHome it has been their "most professional campaign ever".
Over the weekend their candidate Gareth Snell launched into Mr Nuttall, telling the Liverpudlian to "take his bags and sod off back to where he came from".
There are also fears that Labour could lose hold of Copeland, the Cumbria seat which is also choosing its new MP on 23 February.
If Labour fail to hold on to the seat vacated by Jamie Reed they will be the first opposition to lose to a governing party since the Tories won Mitcham and Morden in 1982.
That presaged a disastrous general election in 1983, when Labour lost 52 seats in a landslide victory for Margaret Thatcher.