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Labour fall behind Tories in northern strongholds as main parties' support slumps, major new poll indicates

November 8, 2019 4:19 PM
By Andrew Woodcock Political Editor @andywoodcock in The Independent

peoples march 1Support for Lib Dems and Brexit Party surges in election dominated by Europe

A slump in Labour support since the last election has seen Jeremy Corbyn's party fall behind Tories in its northern strongholds, a massive new poll of more than 11,000 people has found.

Both Labour and Conservatives have lost ground in all regions of Britain since the 2017 vote, as Liberal Democrat and Brexit Party support surges in an election dominated by relations with the EU.

But the YouGov findings make grimmest reading for Mr Corbyn, who sees Boris Johnson's Conservatives establish a lead in the North-West and Yorkshire & Humber regions and challenge Labour for supremacy in the North-East.

Meanwhile, Jo Swinson's Liberal Democrats have pulled ahead of Labour in large swathes of the south, emerging into second place behind Tories in the South-East, South-West and East of England regions.

And Labour fell behind the Lib Dems into fourth place in Scotland, where the party ruled the roost as recently as 2010.

In Wales, Labour clung on by its fingertips to a one-point lead over the Tories - down from a 15-point margin in 2017.

The poll of 11,590 voters, carried out between 17 and 28 October, gave Tories a comfortable overall lead on 36 per cent to Labour's 22 per cent and Lib Dems' 19.

But it bolstered theories that the two major parties are losing votes in both directions to smaller rivals standing on clear pro- and anti-Brexit tickets.

Mr Johnson's figures were down in every part of the country on those achieved by Theresa May in the 2017 election, when she took 42 per cent to Labour's 40 per cent and the Lib Dems' 7 per cent, producing a hung parliament.

Nevertheless, Tory strategists will take heart at the party's position in the vital northern seats where Mr Johnson is targeting so-called "Workington man" - traditional Labour voters who backed Leave in the 2016 EU referendum.

Labour's share of the vote in the North-West region - including Workington as well as the party's fortresses in Lancashire, Merseyside and Greater Manchester - has collapsed from 55 per cent to just 30 since the 2017 election, leaving Mr Corbyn's party three points behind Tories on 33 per cent.

In the Yorkshire & Humber region, Labour's decline is almost as precipitous - down 20 points since 2017 from 49 to 29 per cent, five points behind the Tories on 34.

In the North-East, Labour's vote was down 23 points since the last election from 55 to 32 per cent. But Mr Corbyn's party holds onto its lead in the region as the Tory share of the vote fell from 34 to 26 per cent over the same period.

The North-East recorded the strongest support for Nigel Farage's Brexit Party at 19 per cent - up 15 points from Ukip's 4 per cent in 2017.

In the West Midlands, Tories extended their six-point lead over Labour in 2017 to 20 points on 43 per cent (down six) to Labour's 23 (down 20). Lib Dems were up 10 points to 14 per cent and Brexit Party were on 12.

A similar pattern was recorded in the East Midlands, where Labour shed 19 points since 2017 to 22 per cent, 23 points behind Tories on 45 per cent (down six). Lib Dems were on 15 per cent and Brexit Party 12.

In the south, Liberal Democrats appeared to establish themselves as the main challengers to Tories outside London.

In the South-East - where Ms Swinson's party are targeting a number of Remain-voting Tory commuter belt seats - Lib Dems were up 12 points since the last election to 23 per cent, ahead of Labour on 16 (down 13) and the Brexit Party on 12, but still a long way behind Tories on 41 (down 13).

Lib Dems were on 21 per cent in the South-West (up 6), pulling ahead of Labour on 17 (down 12) and Brexit Party on 13, with Tories maintaining a comfortable lead on 41 per cent (down 10).

And in the East of England, Lib Dems were up 10 points since 2017 to 18 per cent, one point ahead of Labour on 17 (down 16) and four ahead of the Brexit Party on 14, but still well behind Conservatives on 45 (down 10).

Only in London did Labour record a comfortable lead of 10 points over Tories, but even in the capital its rating was 16 points down from the 55 per cent recorded in 2017, on 39 per cent. The Conservatives were down four on 29 per cent and Lib Dems up 10 on 19 per cent.

In Wales, Labour had lost 20 points since 2017 but maintained a bare one-point lead on 29 per cent to Tories' 28, with the Brexit Party in third place on 15, Plaid Cymru on 12 and Lib Dems on 12.

Nicola Sturgeon's Scottish National Party consolidated its dominance north of the border, increasing their share of the vote from 37 per cent in 2017 to 42 per cent now. Tory support fell seven points to 22 per cent and Labour slumped 15 points to 12 per cent, while Lib Dems put on six points to 13 per cent.

Greens improved on their 2017 performance in every part of the country, scoring 7 per cent in the North-East, Yorkshire & Humber, West Midlands and the South-West.