CONSERVATIVES FACE EUROPEAN WIPE-OUT
GENERAL ELECTION TO COST JOHNSON, BRADY AND RUDD THEIR SEATS AS TORY SUPPORT SLUMPS
The Conservative Party looks spent as a parliamentary force both in Europe and Westminster as a shock ComRes poll for pressure group Brexit Express reveals the full extent of public disillusionment with ‘the natural party of government’.
Voting intention in up-coming (May 23) European elections puts the Conservatives in 4th place behind not only Nigel Farage’s new Brexit Party but now also the LibDems. With the Farage outfit polling at 27%, Labour at 25%, LibDems on 13% and the Conservatives a percentage point behind that on 13%.
When voters are asked where they would place their cross in a general election, the picture is even starker. The Brexit Party (20%) would, according to Electoral Calculus, take a potential 49 seats as Conservative support (19%) collapses to its lowest since 1995. That means aspirant leaders Boris Johnson and Amber Rudd, former Tory leader Iain Duncan-Smith, 1922 Committee chairman Sir Graham Brady and Defence Secretary Penny Mordaunt would lose their seats as the Tories shed a massive 139 MPs.
Labour on 27% would emerge as the biggest party but 10 seats short of an outright majority while the LibDems (14%) would double their current tally from 9 to 18.
Most frightening for Conservative Central Office is their inability to retain voters who plumped for them in the 2017 General Election with only 46% of their supporters from then willing to give them another chance in government.
“This is a disaster for the Conservative Party. Worse still, it was entirely foreseen. In early April a ComRes poll for The Telegraph showed that only two Brexit outcomes would be acceptable to Conservative voters: to leave with No Deal, which two-thirds of their 2017 voter base still want, or more grudgingly Theresa May’s Withdrawal Agreement. Any other outcome was regarded as ‘unacceptable’ by at least 70% of voters who supported the Tories in 2017. Having ignored those warnings, the Conservative Party has now lost more than half of its 2017 support base.” Said Andrew Hawkins, Chairman of ComRes.
A glimmer of hope lies in the effect a change of Tory leadership might have on voters. Any one of Boris Johnson (leaving the Tories on 26%), Amber Rudd (22%) or Dominic Raab (23%) would put the Conservatives back with touching distance of Labour (27%) if, by that time, the country had finally left the European Union.
“This is no longer just about the European elections on 23 May, but about the future existence of the Conservative Party. 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.” Added Hawkins.
Making the point is a crisis in leadership, with Theresa May coming in for harsh voter criticism. More than half of the public (53%) agree that Theresa May should accept that she cannot deliver Brexit and step down now, compared to a quarter (25%) who disagree.
Three in five (62%) agree that Britain needs a strong leader willing to break the rules, compared to just one in five (19%) who disagree. Just 18% of the public agree that they trust Theresa May to deliver on her promises to voters, compared to nearly two-thirds who disagree (62%).
The May strategy of outreach to the Labour Party has also backfired. More than half of the public (52%) agree that working with Jeremy Corbyn to try to agree a Brexit deal makes Theresa May look desperate, compared to less than a third (30%) who agree that working with Corbyn makes her look inclusive.
“Two other factors have driven Conservative votes into the arms of the Brexit Party. The first was the failure to leave the EU on 29 March which, despite blaming the parliamentary impasse, still angers many traditional Conservative voters. The second was pairing up with Jeremy Corbyn which looks to many of Theresa May’s own voters as evidence either of a failure of leadership or a conspiracy against them.” Said Hawkins.
However, despite the huge up-surge in support for the Brexit Party, revoking Article 50 and remaining in the EU is the most acceptable option to the public (51%), although the remainder (49%) do find it unacceptable. The public are almost equally split on whether a second nationwide referendum between remain and leave would (50%) or would not (50%) be acceptable.
But in a further blow to the Theresa May, among 2017 Conservative voters, the most acceptable Brexit outcome is leaving without a deal on WTO terms (63% acceptable).
Labour should take little solace in the finding, however. Nearly half (47%) agree that, post-Brexit, Britain should position itself as the lowest-tax, business-friendliest country in Europe, while less than a fifth (18%) disagree.
Jeremy Hosking, who set up Brexit Express , said: “At some point, the Westminster bubble was always going to meet the voters and they are armed with a pin. The Tory Party have been revealed as Brexiteers in name only while Labour are trapped between their northern heartlands and their north London heads. Unsurprisingly, only parties with an unequivocal Brexit position are benefitting from voter doubt.”
Brexit Express is an independent, not for profit, pressure group established by city financier, Jeremy Hosking, to support Britain's withdrawal from the European Union and ensure no back-sliding on Brexit.
Notes to editors:
Methodology note: ComRes surveyed 2,034 GB adults online on 9th May 2019. Data were weighted to be representative of all GB adults aged 18+ by age, gender, region and social grade. Data were also weighted by 2017 General Election vote recall and 2016 EU Referendum vote. ComRes is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules. Full tables at www.comresglobal.com