World / Politics

Brexit Party doubles lead in poll over upcoming European Parliament elections

AFP-JIJI

The newly formed Brexit Party, which wants a clean break from the EU, has doubled its lead over other British parties in an opinion poll out Sunday on the European Parliament elections.

The Opinium survey in The Observer newspaper put the Brexit Party of euroskeptic figurehead Nigel Farage on 34 percent, doubling its lead over the main opposition Labour Party to 13 points in a fortnight — and on course to get more votes than Britain’s two main parties put together.

Labour, on 21 percent, has dropped 7 points, while the anti-Brexit Liberal Democrats are in third place on 12 percent, up 5 points, on the corresponding poll from two weeks ago.

Prime Minister Theresa May’s governing Conservatives are in fourth place on 11 percent.

Had Britain left the European Union as planned on March 29, it would not be taking part in the European Parliament elections, which will be held in the U.K. on May 23.

In the 2016 referendum on Britain’s EU membership, 52 percent voted to leave, while 48 percent voted to remain.

Adam Drummond, head of political polling at Opinium, said “remain” voters were scattered among several parties.

“While 63 percent of leavers say they will vote for the Brexit Party in the European elections, the most popular party among remainers (Labour) only has 31 percent, versus 22 percent for the Lib Dems and 14 percent for the Greens,” he said.

Brexit voters have deserted the Conservatives to such an extent that they now have a higher share of remainers (12 percent) backing them than of leavers (11 percent), he added.

In voting intentions for the next general election — which must be held by May 2022 — left-wing Labour is on 28 percent, the centre-right Conservatives on 22 percent, the Brexit Party on 21 percent and the centrist Liberal Democrats on 11 percent.

Opinium Research conducted an online survey of 2,004 British adults between Wednesday and Friday. The results were weighted.

A ComRes general election poll, which appears in The Sunday Telegraph newspaper, puts Labour on 27 percent, the Brexit Party on 20 percent and the Conservatives on 19 percent.

The poll of 2,034 adults conducted on Thursday was commissioned by Brexit Express, a campaign group run by the Brexit Party’s biggest donor.

May has pledged to step down once a Brexit divorce deal has been agreed upon by parliament.

ComRes Chairman Andrew Hawkins said of those bidding to replace May: “If the Conservative leadership contenders are not careful, there will be no party for them to lead.”