The UK’s prominent political parties have scarily started organising their campaigns, and with the continued uncertainty surrounding the exit from the European Union, support is likely to be volatile. It puts Britain into a situation Theresa May was all too keen to avoid, having to send MPs, many of whom want to leave the EU as soon as possible but still have a say in its future. The UK as a whole will elect 73 MEPs – 60 in England, six in Scotland, four in Wales and three in Northern Ireland.
The European Parliament elections in 2014 saw Ukip come out on top in a tight contest with 27.49 percent of the vote and 24 MEPs, followed by the Labour Party (25.4 percent and 20 MEPs) and Conservative Party (23.93 percent and 19 MEPs).
But with the Brexit crisis engulfing the Tories since the EU referendum result in June 2016, and huge internal splits deepening over their handling of negotiations, the results could look very different in a few weeks time.
A new Open Europe poll conducted by Hanbury Strategy of 2,000 people from April 5-8 has revealed Labour could could dominate the European elections and build a huge lead over their rivals.
Asked about which party they are intending to vote for, Labour led the way with 37.8 percent – up by around 50 percent from four years ago.
The Conservative Party are a distant second with 23 percent of the vote, followed by Nigel Farage’s new Brexit Party (10.3 percent), Liberal Democrats (8.1 percent) and Ukip (7.5 percent).
These voting intentions suggest support for the Conservatives in these elections has been significantly squeezed, with Hanbury Strategy pointing towards the emergence of the new Brexit Party.
It claims their support, as well as that of Change UK, will only likely continue to grow in there coming weeks as their recognition develops.
When asked later in the survey about the new parties, after their initial voting intention had been recorded, many respondents showed significant interest in supporting them.
Nearly half (48.1 percent) of Leave voters said they were either likely or very likely to support the Brexit Party in the upcoming elections, compared to 18 percent of Remain voters.
A third (33.4 percent) of Remain voters also said they were “likely” or “very likely” to back Change UK – formerly know as The Independent Group (TIG) – which they were told is in favour of a second referendum on Britain’s exit from the EU.
In contrast, 22.7 percent of Leave voters suggested they are either “likely” or “very likely” to support that party.
But the voting intention figures don’t account for the likely impact of differential turnouts which at this stage, is expected to be reasonably low, with just 35.2 percent of respondents saying they would definitely vote.
Commenting on the results, Open Europe director Harry Newman said: “Right across the EU, European elections are seen by voters as an opportunity to register a protest.
“Those elections will give the public a chance to send a message on Brexit.
“These early results suggest that Labour are on track for a strong performance in the European elections, with the Conservative vote significantly squeezed.
“The Brexit party and Change UK – new challenger parties at either extreme of the Brexit debate – are likely to do well, allowing them to secure a foothold in elected national politics.”
Additional reporting by Monika Pallenberg.