Another day, another poll predicting the Brexit party will triumph in next month’s European elections. This time, it’s a Times/YouGov poll which puts Nigel Farage’s new party ahead of both Labour and the Tories. The Brexit Party is on 23 per cent, Labour on 22 per cent and the Conservatives on 17 per cent. Meanwhile, Ukip is on 6 per cent.
European Parliament voting intention:
BREX: 23% (-4)
LAB: 22% (-)
CON: 17% (+2)
GRN: 10% (-)
LDEM: 9% (-)
CHUK: 8% (+2)
UKIP: 6% (-1)
via @YouGov, 16 – 17 Apr
Chgs. w/ 16 Apr
— Britain Elects (@britainelects) April 17, 2019
The other striking trend in recent European election polling relates to the pro-EU parties. They are yet to win the public support many predicted – with the newly formed Independent Group (now called Change UK) struggling to create the same impact on the pro-EU side as the Brexit party has on the other end of the political spectrum.
So, what would a triumph for the Brexit party in the European elections mean for the Tories? Most Conservative MPs are resigned to an embarrassing – potentially record-breaking – result. Given that the bulk of Tory voters don’t want these elections to be taking place, it’s hard to see how the Tories could do okay. Some argue that a defeat in the European elections isn’t such a bad thing, as a vote for the Brexit party is a protest vote and will send a strong message about what direction the party needs to go in next. If the local elections are very bad for the Tories this could also lead to more MPs calling for May to go – or, at least, change the debate of who ought to succeed her. Supporters of Brexiteer candidates – like Boris Johnson and Dominic Raab – argue that votes to the Brexit party and Ukip simply make the case for the Tories choosing a eurosceptic leader next.