A revolt by Labour voters in the North and Midlands against Jeremy Corbyn’s bid to block Brexit could hand Boris Johnson victory in next month’s General Election.
The Tories are on course to win about 30 seats in Labour’s English heartlands on December 12 thanks to a dramatic swing against Mr Corbyn’s party since the 2017 election, according to a Daily Mail poll.
It means the Conservatives are poised to triumph in working-class seats they have rarely – if ever – held, such as Bishop Auckland, Great Grimsby, Rother Valley, Stoke-on-Trent North, Workington and Bassetlaw. All are in areas which voted to leave the EU.
The Survation poll for the Daily Mail shows that large parts of the north of England could return their first Conservative MP in generations
The Conservatives have leads of up to 20 percentage points in 43 Labour-held seats they are targeting in the North and Midlands. Mr Johnson needs a swing of just 5 per cent to gain 16 Labour seats, including Wakefield, Keighley, Barrow, Dudley North and Newcastle-under-Lyme
The Survation poll, carried out after Mr Corbyn unveiled his controversial £83 billion manifesto, suggests Labour has been overwhelmingly rejected by its traditional supporters. It is the first election opinion poll this year to focus on the North and Midlands.
Remarkably, the poll also found that four in ten Labour voters (39 per cent) would be more likely to vote Labour if the party got rid of Mr Corbyn. And one in four Labour voters (23 per cent) prefer Mr Johnson’s Brexit policy.
Brutal televised grilling for Jeremy Corbyn and Boris Johnson on BBC
The poll comes as Jeremy Corbyn insisted he would take a ‘neutral stance’ in an EU referendum under Labour while Boris Johnson was challenged over ‘racist rhetoric’ and trustworthiness during a brutal televised grilling.
The Prime Minister refused to apologise over his use of language and defended Tory austerity during a special episode of BBC’s Question Time yesterday.
The Labour leader also came under fierce scrutiny from voters when he was questioned over fears for businesses, anti-Semitism, misogyny, freedom of speech and Scottish independence.
As they try to tip the balance in the campaign for the December 12 General Election, the leaders of the four main parties were quizzed for half-an-hour apiece.
The findings indicate that Mr Corbyn’s so-called ‘Red Wall’ of seats from North Wales to Durham will be breached by the Tories.
Labour support in the vast region has slumped by 11 points to 37 per cent since the 2017 election. The Tories are on 42 per cent – down two points since 2017. The Lib Dems are on 13 per cent, up from 5 per cent in 2017, with the Brexit Party on 7 per cent.
Mr Corbyn is paying a heavy price for his EU fence-sitting – 9 per cent of those who backed him in 2017 have defected to the pro-Brexit Tories; another 11 per cent have defected to Jo Swinson’s anti-Brexit Lib Dems.
The biggest Labour-Tory swing is in the North West, including Manchester and Liverpool, where Labour had a mammoth 19-point lead over the Conservatives in 2017. That has been slashed to just two points.
The Tory lead over Labour in the East Midlands has soared from ten points in 2017 to 18 points. And the Conservatives have slashed Labour’s lead in Yorkshire and The Humber region by nine points, putting them one point behind.
Crucially, the Conservatives have leads of up to 20 percentage points in 43 Labour-held seats they are targeting in the North and Midlands. Mr Johnson needs a swing of just 5 per cent to gain 16 Labour seats, including Wakefield, Keighley, Barrow, Dudley North and Newcastle-under-Lyme.
Mr Corbyn is paying a heavy price for his EU fence-sitting – 9 per cent of those who backed him in 2017 have defected to the pro-Brexit Tories; another 11 per cent have defected to Jo Swinson’s anti-Brexit Lib Dems
A swing of 10 per cent would see another 14 go from red to blue, including Bassetlaw, Dewsbury, Bolton North East and Darlington. A 15 per cent swing would see another 12 Labour seats captured by Mr Johnson, including the former pit village of Bolsover in Derbyshire, held by veteran Labour MP Dennis Skinner, and Tony Blair’s old constituency, Sedgefield in County Durham.
Labour leader is no PM, say voters
A second poll yesterday said just one in four voters believe Jeremy Corbyn is ready to become Prime Minister.
A total of 65 per cent of those quizzed think he is not equipped for the top job. The Ipsos MORI survey for the Evening Standard put his ratings lower than when he lost to Theresa May in 2017.
A staggering 73 per cent of voters say they do not like him. His 23 per cent likeability rating is marginally higher than the 21 per cent which Ed Miliband achieved in 2015 before one of the party’s worst ever defeats.
Mr Johnson is seen as the most ‘capable’ Prime Minister, chosen by 49 per cent compared with only 30 per cent for Mr Corbyn.
Just 22 per cent think Labour has ‘a good team of leaders’. Mr Corbyn is half as popular as the party he leads, which is liked by 49 per cent, while 50 per cent of voters view it as ‘extreme’.
Damian Lyons Lowe, of Survation, said: ‘The figures suggest that even with the Brexit Party contesting Labour-held seats, Labour is vulnerable in places it has held for decades. The effect of the disproportionate fall in Labour support in this poll will vary from seat to seat. However, the Tories will be confident of winning all target seats in the North and Midlands where they need a 5 per cent swing, many of those where up to a 10 per cent swing is required, and possibly others too.’
The North and Midlands has become the key election battleground. With the Conservatives expected to lose seats in Scotland and pro-Remain areas in London and the South, Mr Johnson must advance in the North and Midlands to win a Commons majority.
Corbyn allies say a deep-seated loathing of the Conservatives in working-class communities in the North and Midlands means they are safe for Labour.
But Johnson aides say Mr Corbyn’s Brexit ‘dither and delay’, allied to a sense that Northern and Midlands Labour voters feel alienated from his Islington brand of Left-wing politics, provides a potential breakthrough.
The poll found that Mr Johnson is regarded as best Prime Minister by 46 per cent of voters, while 30 per cent say Mr Corbyn would do a better job in No 10.
A total of 3,082 people took part in the poll in the East Midlands, West Midlands, Yorkshire and the Humber, North East and North West on Thursday and yesterday