Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 23 October 2019

UK’s Liberal Democrats surge to the top of election poll

Nigel Farage's Brexit Party came second following its European parliament success

Liberal Democrats leader SIr Vince Cable is set to stand down from the role despite the party's European election success. Reuters
Liberal Democrats leader SIr Vince Cable is set to stand down from the role despite the party's European election success. Reuters

Britain’s Liberal Democrats would win the most seats if a general election was held now, according to a “startling” new poll. In second place was Nigel Farage’s recently created Brexit Party, which came first in last week’s European parliament elections.

The Lib Dems, who have backed a second referendum over the UK leaving the European Union, took 24 per cent of the poll with the strongly Eurosceptic Brexit Party at 22 per cent. The UK’s two main political parties, the ruling Conservatives and main opposition Labour, came joint third with 19 per cent in the poll by YouGov on behalf of The Times.

The online survey took in the views of 1,763 people on May 28-29. It saw support for both Labour and the Conservatives fall by six per cent compared to a similar poll conducted two weeks before. The Lib Dems soared by a remarkable eight per cent and the Brexit Party by four per cent.

YouGov’s director of political research, Anthony Wells, said it was “unprecedented” for two “challenger” parties to overtake Labour and the Conservatives.

He did, however, “urge some caution before reading the last rites over Britain’s two party system,” saying much of the polls finding was a rollover from the European parliament elections. Writing in The Times, Mr Wells said in time Labour and the Conservatives could be expected to claw their way to the top again.

Both parties are incredibly divided on the way forward, with many in Labour urging for a second referendum and a large chunk of the Conservatives advocating a hard Brexit.

“Nevertheless, the sheer scale of the upset in the European elections and the voting intention figures do highlight the extent to which Brexit is breaking traditional party allegiances and identifications that used to underpin our politics,” he said.

“For the time being at least, voters seem to be looking for the parties that represent their views on Brexit, rather than their usual party loyalties, to the benefit of those parties that have clear pro and anti-EU positions, rather than the compromises that the main two parties have contorted themselves into,” he added.

Outgoing prime minister Theresa May has seen her Brexit withdrawal plan rejected by parliament three times and, as a result, she delayed the original EU leave date from March 29 to October 31. Many of her potential successors have suggested they could a no-deal or hard Brexit, a move that appals many MPs.

The Lib Dems are currently in a leadership contest of their own.

Updated: May 31, 2019 02:16 PM