Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party surges into second place in Scotland
Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party has surged into second place in Scotland, threatening to wipe out the Conservatives and Labour north of the Border in this week’s European elections.
Just one in five Scottish voters said they will back Labour or the Tories, with the parties languishing in joint fourth place, according to a new YouGov poll.
Another survey puts Mr Farage’s party in second place across the UK in general election voting intention as fed- up Conservative voters continue to abandon their party.
Ahead of an imminent leadership contest to succeed Prime Minister Theresa May, senior Tories warned of the risk that populism could engulf the party, and called on colleagues not to embrace radical positions just to raise their profile.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said the prospect of Boris Johnson – the runaway favourite to become the next Tory leader – getting into Number 10 meant she would not abandon plans for another Scottish independence referendum by 2021.
Polling by YouGov suggests Ruth Davidson’s Tories are set to lose their only MEP in Scotland, while Scottish Labour are expected to lose at least one of the two seats they hold in the European Parliament.
The SNP lead the YouGov poll with 38 per cent of the forecast vote share, with the Brexit Party in second place on 20 per cent, followed by the Scottish Greens, who are looking to win their first MEP. Labour are polling just 10 per cent support, the same as the Scottish Conservatives.
YouGov found that 22 per cent of Labour’s 2017 voters are planning to vote Liberal Democrat at the European elections and 17 per cent will go for the Greens.
Where Labour are losing their vote, three votes are going to pro-Remain parties for every vote that goes to a pro-Brexit party.
Meanwhile, a Panelbase poll found the Brexit Party would win eight MSPs in a Scottish Parliament election, while an Opinium poll found that Mr Farage’s party would take 24 per cent of the vote in a UK general election, more than the Tories on 22 per cent.
Louis Stedman-Bryce, the lead Brexit Party candidate in Scotland, hailed the surge in support.
“This is despite Nicola Sturgeon’s insistence that ‘Scotland is not for Brexit’ on the Andrew Marr Show on Sunday, demonstrating just how out of touch she is with the electorate,” Mr Stedman-Bryce said.
He added: “Like the rest of the UK, Scotland is fed up with career politicians trying to overturn democracy and push their own agenda.
“The First Minister should be very concerned because the Brexit Party will soon be turning its sights to Holyrood as well as Westminster.”
Scottish Greens parliamentary co-leader Alison Johnstone MSP, said: “These are the most important EU elections ever and the polling shows that the people of Scotland look likely to elect our first Green MEP.
“People know that if they want an MEP who will fight to keep Scotland at the heart of Europe, propose the serious actions needed to tackle the climate emergency and offer hope over hate, then they should vote Green on Thursday. As positive as this poll is, we’re taking nothing for granted and will keep talking to voters up and down the country until the polls close.”
The poll of 9,260 people across the UK, carried out by YouGov and Datapraxis for the Best for Britain and Hope not Hate campaigns, put the Brexit Party on top, with twice the share of the vote of the second-placed Liberal Democrats.
Nick Lowles, chief executive of Hope not Hate, said: “These results are incredibly alarming. They envision a populist right party storming to victory in these elections. If that happens as this poll suggests, it will be a big boost for the forces of division in this country. That’s why it is so important that progressives get out and vote on Thursday.
“Some have warned that a confirmatory referendum could deepen divisions, but this poll makes it clear that continuing to pretend this question has been resolved is what’s really pulling the country apart.”
A group of “One Nation” Tory MPs has said the party risks being “overtaken by a divisive and populist movement” after being divided by Brexit, and called for Mrs May’s successor as Prime Minister to unite both Remainers and Leavers.
The group, which includes Nicky Morgan, Sir Nicholas Soames and George Freeman, said in a letter published on a newspaper website: “We have all seen the growing tide of extremism gripping the Republican party in America.
“We would be naive to think something similar couldn’t happen in this country. In many places, it already has.”
The letter added that the nation – and the Conservative Party – was “at a crossroads”.
“The next prime minister must redefine Brexit as a One Nation project. If they do not, the door will be wide open for Britain’s first-ever Marxist government and a likely decade of decline,” it said.
Defence minister Tobias Ellwood ruled himself out of the running for the party leadership yesterday with a warning to fellow Tory MPs.
“I do urge my colleagues to think why are they putting their name forward,” he said. “Is it to raise their own profile – and some colleagues as well are changing their views in order to woo our membership to raise their profile as well.
“This is getting things in the wrong order. Our focus must be to get Brexit across the line.”