With the EU Parliament election, set for May 23, inching closer, Farage’s anti-EU party has taken pole position, leading with 34 percent thanks to a six-point increase in voter support from two weeks ago, a new Opinium poll commissioned by the Observer has revealed.
While the Brexit Party and Labour shared first place with 28 percent in the last poll, Jeremy Corbyn’s party has since lost seven points, while Farage’s newest political creation pulled ahead and is now separated from its closest rival by a 13-percent gap.
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Support for the Tories continues to hurtle downward. According to the Opinium poll, Prime Minister Theresa May’s party is down three points and occupies fourth place with 11 percent, behind the Brexit Party, Labour and now the Liberal Democrats. The latter have gained five points and are now at 12 percent.
The Brexit Party is making similarly massive gains in general election polls. At 21 percent, it has almost caught up with the Tories, who have just one percentage point more.
While the Brexit Party is still trailing Labour in the national polls, the lead held by Corbyn’s party is by no means secure. Now at 28 percent, as it has lost five points in the last two weeks.
In light of Farage’s advance, high-profile Tories and Labour have been sounding the alarm over the rise of populism embodied by the Brexit firebrand.
In an op-ed published by the Observer on Saturday, former Labour PM Tony Blair urged Remainers to unite and stop Farage at any cost. “Farage cannot be allowed to dictate Britain’s future. He must be thwarted,” its headline says. Any party is better than the Brexit Party, Blair pleadingly writes.
“There are unequivocal remain parties – Liberal Democrats, Change UK, Greens, SNP and Plaid Cymru. If, because of Labour’s equivocation, you simply won’t vote Labour, then vote for them.”
While some Tory MPs, dissatisfied with May’s failure to deliver Brexit, have indicated they might back Farage in the European election, and others like Telford MP Lucy Allan have openly endorsed the Brexit Party’s candidates, Tory chiefs warned MPs that they would be shown the door if they back anyone but their own party. The Sunday Times reported last month that a strong-worded email was sent to MPs noting that “campaigning for or endorsement of any other political party is incompatible with membership of the party.”
Meanwhile, pressure is mounting for May to step down following a calamitous performance in the local election, the worst for Tories since 1995. May vowed to step down as the party’s leader if her Brexit deal is passed by Parliament. Although that has not happened yet, she was called to clarify her resignation date in a meeting with backbench MPs next week.
The Opinium poll was taken online between May 8 and 10 and involved 2,004 respondents.