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Has the Brexit Party peaked too soon?

Nigel Farage, Brexit Party
Nigel Farage, Brexit Party
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Nigel Farage, Brexit Party

Farage’s political group drops to fourth place in polls following Tory assurances over Britain’s departure from EU

In Depth Gabriel Power
Friday, July 12, 2019 - 1:50pm

The Brexit Party’s popularity is plummeting following a surge in the run-up to the European elections, latest polling suggests.

According to a BMG Research survey for The Independent, Nigel Farage’s one-issue Brexit Party has dropped to fourth place on just 14%, behind the Conservatives (28%), Labour (27%) and the Lib Dems (18%).

The Tories and Lib Dems have made gains of two points and one point respectively since last month, while Labour remains unchanged, but the Brexit Party has lost four points - “suggesting that the effect of coming top in the European elections in May is wearing off”,  the newspaper says.

The Daily Express claims the new figures indicate that a number of people who backed the Brexit Party in the vote have returned to the Conservatives, “heartened by the prospect of a Boris Johnson government delivering a ‘do or die’ Brexit with or without a deal on 31 October”.

That link is also indicated by a separate poll for The Daily Telegraph. Of 511 Tory party members quizzed for the survey, just 56% said they would still vote for the Conservatives if the next prime minister fails to deliver Brexit by the October deadline, with 35% claiming they would switch their support to the Brexit Party.

“If, however, the UK left on or by the deadline, Conservative members would flock back, with 92% backing the Tories,” the paper adds. Meanwhile, Brexit Party support among Conservative Party members would fall to just 5%.

A source from Tory leadership front-runner Boris Johnson’s campaign told the Telegraph: “It’s clear that the only way to take on and defeat Jeremy Corbyn is to prick the twin puffballs of the Brexit Party and the Lib Dems who have been feasting on the Conservative vote due to our inability to deliver Brexit.”

But while many commentators believe that would spell disaster for the Brexit Party, in particular, not everyone is convinced. Politico’s Tom McTague argues that the party has “ambitions far beyond being simply a vehicle for Brexiteer protest votes”, with Farage planning to field candidates at every level while developing a full policy platform.

All the same, says UnHerd’s Peter Franklin, in order to stay relevant the Brexit Party needs to “overcome its most dangerous enemy – i.e. itself”.

“Even if it doesn’t succumb to the infighting that held UKIP back, it still has the problem that all protest parties have – the perception that they’re not fit for government,” he says.

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