Theresa May’s Conservative Party has fallen into fourth place in a poll on voting intentions for the European elections, well behind Nigel Farage’s new Brexit Party which has more support than Britain’s traditionally two biggest parties combined.
According to the latest Opinium poll for the Observer newspaper, Farage’s newly formed party is on 34% of the vote ahead of the 23 May election that is being held because Britain failed to leave the European Union as expected in March.
The poll put Labour in second place on 21% while the prime minister’s Conservatives are back in fourth on 11%. The pro-EU Liberal Democrats, the most popular party to explicitly call for a second referendum to reverse Brexit, are on 12%.
Britain’s two biggest parties endured a drubbing at the polls this month when voters expressed their frustration with the Brexit deadlock at local elections.
Farage, whose former party UKIP is credited by many with forcing Britain’s 2016 referendum on EU membership, launched his new party in April, threatening to take on Britain’s political leaders who he accused of betraying the vote to leave.
May has been forced to open talks with the opposition Labour Party to find a compromise on Brexit after lawmakers heavily rejected her EU withdrawal deal three times.
Britain is now due to leave the bloc in October but with parliament split over the terms, it remains unclear how or whether it will.
Life after May
The battle among leading Conservatives to replace Theresa May as prime minister threatens to derail talks with the Labour Party and the bid to find a Brexit compromise, Labour’s John McDonnell said.
May, who has offered to quit if MPs accept her Brexit deal, opened cross-party talks with Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party more than a month ago after parliament rejected her European Union withdrawal deal three times.
The talks with Labour are a last resort for May, whose party’s deep divisions over Brexit have so far stopped her getting approval for an exit agreement and left the world’s fifth largest economy in prolonged political limbo.
McDonnell, Labour’s financial spokesman and a member of the party’s negotiating team, said the situation was precarious.
“The problem they have is that literally in front of us they will fall out,” he told the Sunday Mirror. “So the exercise here is holding themselves together. And that is proving impossible. The administration is falling apart.”
In terms of progress, the second most powerful man in the Labour Party said nothing new had been put on the table, and in some cases the talks had gone backwards.