Voters opposed to Theresa May’s Brexit plan would be prepared to turn to a far-right party in protest, a major new poll into the mood of the nation has found.
The Sunday Times says the YouGov survey, “will spark unease in Downing Street”, coming after a tumultuous couple of weeks in Westminster that saw the prime minister lose two senior members of her cabinet before narrowly avoiding defeat on a customs union backstop amendment that could have led to a full-blown leadership challenge.
Reuters says “May’s political vulnerability was exposed by the survey” which found voters would overwhelmingly prefer Boris Johnson, who resigned as foreign secretary in protest at the Chequers Brexit White Paper, to negotiate with Brussels and lead the Conservatives into the next election rather than the current prime minister.
Despite his star fading somewhat over the past year, Johnson remains a popular figure both within the Tory party and among prospective voters, with his support likely to grow if he is seen by MPs as someone who could prevent votes leaching to populist parties.
This threat is highlighted by polling which found around 38% of people would vote for a new party on the right that was committed to a Hard Brexit, while 24% are prepared to support an explicitly far-right anti-immigrant, anti-Islam party.
One in three voters, meanwhile, are prepared to back a new anti-Brexit centrist party.
“On this evidence” says Politico, “the conditions look perfect for a fundamental realignment of the British party system”.
The Times reports that Tory donors and allies of Nigel Farage, the former Ukip leader, are now plotting to raise £10m to set up a new hard-Brexit party — “a move that could make it impossible for the Tories to win the next election”.
The Independent says that Steve Bannon, the mastermind behind Donald Trump’s shock 2016 presidential election victory, is looking to set up a “movement” to boost the spread of far-right political groups across Europe, and rival the hard-left Momentum in the UK.
Since leaving the White House last year, Bannon has reportedly met a series of right-wing leaders including France’s Marine Le Pen, Alice Weidel of Alternative for Germany, Hungary’s Viktor Orban and Nigel Farage.
He also plans to develop a new “supergroup” within the European parliament that could attract up to a third of MPs after the elections next May, and hold real sway over future direction of the bloc.