The Liberal Democrat comeback appears to have gained momentum after a shock poll put Sir Vince Cable’s party in first place following its huge gains in the European elections.
The YouGov survey had the Lib Dems on 24% ahead of the Brexit Party on 22%, with Labour and the Conservatives both trailing on 19%.
The poll lead will be seen as validation for its avowedly anti-Brexit position and is in stark contrast to the doldrums the party found itself in following the coalition with the Conservative Party.
The poll is the first time the Lib Dems have been in the top spot in a question on how people will vote in a general election since the heady days of Nick Clegg’s popularity in 2010.
But YouGov’s Chris Curtis cautioned against the Lib Dems getting too carried away with the bounce they have enjoyed since the European elections.
He said: “The Cleggmania of 2010 faded fast, with the party falling back in the final weeks of the campaign and ending up with just 1% more of the vote than they had won five years prior.”
The party came second in the recent European elections.
Earlier, Jo Swinson said she will lead a movement to tackle “nationalism and populism” after confirming she will stand for the party leadership.
The party’s deputy leader said she was the right person to lead the “liberal movement” as she entered the contest to succeed Sir Vince.
A new Lib Dem leader will be in place on July 23 after Sir Vince announced his decision to stand down earlier this year, and Swinson will face competition from former cabinet minister Sir Ed Davey.
Swinson, who also served as a minister in the coalition government, will officially launch her campaign on Friday but is already the bookmakers’ favourite.
She used an appearance on BBC’s Question Time to confirm the leadership bid, saying: “I happen to think that this country is crying out for a liberal movement that will challenge the forces of nationalism and populism, and the Liberal Democrats need to be at the heart of that movement and I’m the person to lead it.”
Sir Ed said: “This is definitive proof that Lib Dems are back in the game. Our campaign to stop Brexit and fix Britain is resonating with millions of voters who have been let down by the two main parties.
“As Lib Dem leader I would capitalise on this success and build a strong liberal movement for the future, focused on tackling climate change and rebuilding our our public services.”