Labour could emerge victorious in European elections as Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party looks set to tear chunks out of the Tory vote, a new poll suggests.
An Open Europe survey on voting intentions for the European Parliament next month shows support for Labour at 37.8%, while the Conservatives trail a distant second at 23%.
Farage’s new Brexit party project, polling at 10.3%, stands to benefit from the collapse in support for Theresa May’s Conservatives, according to the poll, which saw Hanbury Strategy survey 2,000 people between April 5 and April 8.
Nakedly pro-EU parties have yet to pick up support, with 8.1% saying they would back the Liberal Democrats and 4.1% for the new Change UK party.
But while the figures suggest Labour may be reaping a reward from its “constructive ambiguity” approach to Brexit, Open Europe – a Eurosceptic think tank – said voters were ready to “register a protest” by backing a new party.
A sizeable 33.4% of Remainers said they were either likely or very likely to support Change UK when they were told is in favour of “a second referendum on Britain’s exit from the EU.”
The party, set up by the Independent Group of former Labour and Tory MPs, will be led by ex-Conservative Heidi Allen.
The poll also showed Remainers were more motivated to get to the ballot box – 46.9% said they were “10/10” going to vote compared to 37.8% of Brexiteers.
Almost half (48.1%) of Leave voters said they were likely or very likely to support the Brexit Party, signalling the elections could be painful for the governing Conservatives.
It is not yet clear whether Britain will be forced to take part in the EU-wide elections on May 23.
Theresa May will travel to Brussels on Wednesday to make her case to the European Council to agree a short, flexible extension to June 30, hoping that the UK will pull out before the elections.
Donald Tusk, however, has signalled he will recommend a year-long extension to the Article 50 deadline. With EU leader sceptical Westminster can agree a deal, taking part in the poll could be a condition of any extension.
Open Europe director, Henry Newman said: “Right across the EU, European elections are seen by voters as an opportunity to register a protest. Assuming Brexit is further delayed and the UK is forced to hold elections for new MEPs, those elections will give the public a chance to send a message on Brexit.
“These early results suggest that Labour are on track for a strong performance in the European elections, with the Conservative vote significantly squeezed.
“The Brexit party and Change UK – new challenger parties at either extreme of the Brexit debate are likely to do well, allowing them to secure a foothold in elected national politics. Nearly half of Leave voters said they were ‘likely’ to support the Brexit party and a third of Remain voters Change UK.”