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Farage claims 'will of the people' is for UK to crash out with no deal as his Brexit party soars in polls

The Conservatives, meanwhile, look set for a battering at the polls this month.

Nigel Farage at a rally in Durham
Nigel Farage at a rally in Durham
Image: Danny Lawson/PA Images

THE NEWLY-FORMED Brexit Party in the UK has doubled its lead over other British parties in an opinion poll out today on the European Parliament elections.

The Opinium survey in The Observer newspaper put the Brexit Party of eurosceptic figurehead Nigel Farage on 34%, 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.

In a testy interview on BBC with Andrew Marr today, Farage criticised how Theresa May had conducted the Brexit negotiations and said that the “only way the democratic will of the people” from the 2016 vote could be respected is to leave the EU without a deal.

He claimed that he came up with the phrase “no deal is better than a bad deal”, and repeated it every day in the two weeks running up to the June 2016 referendum. Marr said he hadn’t been able to find evidence of Farage saying this. 

Farage: “I didn’t spend 25 years campaigning to leave the European Union to sign up to a new treaty.” 

He said the only way to leave the EU now is on WTO trade terms and, if the UK does, Europe will be “banging our door down” seeking a trade deal. 

European opinion poll

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

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

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

In the 2016 referendum on Britain’s EU membership, 52% 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% of Leavers say they will vote for the Brexit Party in the European elections, the most popular party among Remainers (Labour) only has 31%, versus 22% for the Lib Dems and 14% 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%) backing them than of Leavers (11%), he added.

General election

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

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%, the Brexit Party on 20% and the Conservatives on 19%.

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. She is under pressure from within her own party to disclose what her eventual departure date will be. 

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.”

© AFP 2019 

With Seán Murray

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