Tories take four-point poll lead over Labour
Theresa May receives much-needed boost as party prepares for London election wipeout
The Tories have opened up a four-point opinion poll lead over Labour, in a much-needed boost to the party and its beleaguered leader.
Despite infighting, a struggling Prime Minister, sluggish economic growth, a stalled domestic agenda, a housing and health crisis and uncertainty over Brexit, the latest YouGov poll shows Theresa May’s party has the biggest lead over its main opponents since last year’s disastrous general election.
The poll for The Times shows the Tories on 43%, up one point since last week, with Labour down three on 39%. The Liberal Democrats are on 8%, up two points from last week.
The news will be “a relief” for the Conservatives, who have faced widespread coverage of the leaks and splits in the party over Brexit, reports The Times.
Respondents gave May an eight-point lead over her Labour rival, Jeremy Corbyn, on the question of which of them would make the best prime minister.
This despite an overwhelming majority of voters (59%) believing the Prime Minister is doing a bad job of negotiating Brexit, compared to just 22% saying she is doing a good job.
On Wednesday night, the Prime Minister rallied Tory donors at a black-tie fundraising event in London where she accused Corbyn and Labour of exploiting a rise in populist politics.
“And what do they offer?” she asked the exclusive gathering. “Massive renationalisation. Capital flight. A run on the pound. That all leads to a bankrupt Britain. That’s why, as Conservatives, we are on a renewed mission to fight and win the battle of ideas and to defeat socialism today as we have defeated it before.”
However, there are some worrying signs for the Tories - most notably a stark generational divide, with under-50s overwhelmingly backing Labour and Corbyn. Over-50s backed the Conservatives by a similar margin.
Labour would be wise not to take these voters for granted, after a separate YouGov poll earlier this week warned the party would haemorrhage votes among young people were it to embrace Brexit at the next election.
Amid signs the party leadership is softening its position on Brexit and more specifically the customs union, the survey found the party would be 10% less popular among under-50s if it campaigned on a pro-Brexit platform at the next election.
Despite Labour’s ongoing ambiguity over the issue, the Daily Mail says Tory party chiefs are “bracing themselves for a pummelling in local elections in the capital in May - as the city overwhelmingly voted Remain in the Brexit referendum”.
One Cabinet source told Mail Online the party is expecting to lose Conservative strongholds such as Barnet, Westminster and Wandsworth, adding: “Things are looking really bad in London.”