Furious Nigel Farage today claimed a bombshell poll showing the Lib Dems top underplayed the Brexit Party surge.
Mr Farage fumed that his party was ‘hidden’ from voters in the shock survey, which put it in second place – although still ahead of the Tories and Labour.
The YouGov findings are the latest evidence of a major political earthquake in the wake of dramatic European elections, and sent Westminister into overdrive.
Sir Vince Cable’s unashamedly pro-EU Lib Dems received 24 per cent support – their best showing for years.
The Brexit Party, which came top in the European election, was close behind with 22 per cent.
A survey of how Britons might vote in a general election shows the main political parties in joint third place – behind the pro-Remain Lib Dems and Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party
Mr Farage fumed that his party was ‘hidden’ from voters in the shock survey, which put it in second place
The Conservatives and Labour were tied on a dismal 19 per cent.
But Mr Farage dismissed the poll results as skewed against his party – pointing out that it was not listed as an option.
Instead, those surveyed were initially asked to choose between the Tories, Labour, Lib Dems, SNP, Plaid Cymru and ‘other’. Only if they chose ‘other’ were they prompted with further options including the Brexit Party.
Corbyn says new poll is ‘some way off’
Jeremy Corbyn deepened Labour’s Brexit woes last night as he said a second referendum was ‘some way off’.
Speaking in Dublin, he resisted pressure to begin campaigning for a public vote.
He said the only way to break the deadlock would be a general election or a second referendum after negotiating a softer Brexit deal.
And Mr Corbyn would not say definitively that remaining in the EU would be on the ballot paper in a public vote.
He said: ‘We don’t back a rerun of 2016. That happened. That is gone. If Parliament comes to an agreement, then it’s reasonable, and if Parliament wishes it, there should be a public vote on it but that is some way off.’
The Labour leader is under pressure from John McDonnell and Diane Abbott to back a second vote. But others on the Left oppose it.
Mr Farage tweeted: ‘You Gov have released a poll showing the Lib Dems top in the country, with @brexitparty_uk second.
‘They did not have the BP option on the list and we were hidden in ‘others’. Looks like an establishment attempt to suppress the truth.’
YouGov takes the approach of only ‘prompting’ initially for the main parties, and offering smaller parties if people choose ‘other’.
In a blog post today, research director Anthony Wells said: ‘This may seem unfair to some people (and has often been a source of complaint from supporters of smaller parties), but is based on what actually gets elections right.
‘In the past, prompting for smaller parties has tended to overstate their support when compared to actual elections, and the two-stage approach to prompting has produced more accurate results.
‘However, there comes a point when a small party becomes a big party, when they should be included in the main prompt.
‘This can be a difficult decision, and one that YouGov takes time and care to call correctly, thoroughly testing any changes before they go ahead.’
Mr Wells said the firm started prompting for Ukip before the 2015 general election and were testing whether the same thing should be done for the Brexit Party.
He pointed out that YouGov and other polling companies overstated support for the Brexit Party before the European elections.
The Lib Dems came second in last week’s European Parliament elections after attracting the support of hundreds of thousands of Remain-supporting Labour voters infuriated by Jeremy Corbyn’s fence-sitting over a second referendum.
The Brexit Party came top, punishing Theresa May’s party for failing to deliver Britain’s departure from the EU.
Nigel Farage (pictured) could be heading for further poll success as a new survey showed his Brexit Party in second place ahead of Labour and the Tories at a Westminster election
The survey for The Times reveals the depth of the crisis the main parties face in the wake of the deadlock over Theresa May’s Brexit deal.
The news came as the head of the Confederation of British Industry – a key Remain cheerleader during the referendum debate – wrote to all 11 Conservative leadership candidates urging them not to leave the EU without a deal.
Yesterday, Chancellor Philip Hammond opened the door to a second referendum, warning it may be the only way to break the impasse among MPs.
Now Cherie admits she voted Lib Dem too
Labour was in retreat last night over its expulsion of Alastair Campbell after it was revealed that Cherie Blair also voted Liberal Democrat in last week’s elections.
The wife of the former prime minister told friends she was ‘appalled’ by the party’s ejection of the former No 10 communications director, sources revealed.
She is said to have broken ranks – unlike her husband, Tony Blair, who said earlier this week he had voted Labour – ‘without any enthusiasm’. Mrs Blair is one of the latest high-profile figures to have gone public to say they voted tactically in order to shift Jeremy Corbyn off the fence on Brexit
It emerged last night that up to 30 Labour peers did not vote for the party in the recent European elections. And yesterday Baroness Boothroyd, the former Labour MP and Commons Speaker, revealed she had not voted Labour for the first time in her life. She said expelling Mr Campbell was ‘daft and insensitive’. Yesterday Baroness Chakrabarti, the shadow attorney general, revealed Mr Campbell’s expulsion was under review.
He said that if they remained divided on Brexit, another vote could be needed – and he suggested that rather than let a new Tory prime minister pursue No Deal, he would vote to bring down the Government in a confidence vote.
A new leader will take charge after party elections this summer, replacing Theresa May as Prime Minister.
Mr Hammond said that if Parliament blocked No Deal and did not vote for a Brexit agreement, the country would be trapped in limbo until another public vote was held.
He said he would prefer to leave with a deal agreed by MPs, but added: ‘If we do get to the point where Parliament has to admit it cannot resolve this issue it will have to be remitted back to the people.
‘I am not sure that a general election can resolve the question for the simple reason that both the main political parties are divided on the issue.
‘This is a division that runs not between the parties but within the parties, and it isn’t clear what the manifesto position of the major parties would be and how we would resolve the internal disagreements.’
He hinted that he might rebel against his party if it was the only way to stop No Deal, adding: ‘I have never voted against the Conservative whip. But the national interest trumps the party interest, and if I am presented with a difficult choice I will act in what I believe is the best interest of this country.’
Meanwhile, CBI director general Carolyn Fairbairn sent an open letter to Tory leadership candidates calling for an end to the Brexit crisis, and warning that no amount of work will prepare firms for No Deal. It will be seen as a rebuke to candidate Boris Johnson, who dismissed corporate protests against Brexit with the words: ‘F*** business.’
Sir Vince Cable’s Liberal Democrats are predicted to garner 24 per cent – their best showing for years, according to the YouGov survey (pictured, Mr Cable with winning MEP candidates)
She said her 190,000 members desperately wanted an end to Brexit turmoil, adding: ‘Leaving the EU with a deal is the best way forward. Short-term disruption and long-term damage to British competitiveness will be severe if we leave without one.
‘The majority of firms can never be prepared for No Deal, particularly our small and medium-sized members who cannot afford complex and costly contingency plans.’
Ex-chancellor George Osborne said yesterday that as Tories showed no willingness to compromise on Brexit, the party’s new leader may have to choose between No Deal or staying in the EU, adding: ‘That’s the looming choice for the party and the country.’
Chancellor Hammond goes to war with Tory MP hopefuls as Gove and Hunt back report calling for £190bn treasury spending splurge
Five Tory leadership candidates clashed with Philip Hammond last night as they backed a report calling for radical tax cuts and steep increases in spending.
Michael Gove and Jeremy Hunt were among the contenders to endorse the report – by a centre-Right think tank – which calls on the Government to ‘turn on all the taps’.
It says ministers should boost school spending to record levels, recruit thousands more police officers and slash corporation tax to Irish levels.
The report, which also calls for a significant slowdown in the pace of austerity, was also supported by Matt Hancock, Sajid Javid and Esther McVey.
But yesterday morning, Mr Hammond warned that ‘radical’ tax cuts could be unaffordable.
Five Tory leadership candidates clashed with Philip Hammond (pictured yesterday) last night as they backed a report calling for radical tax cuts and steep increases in spending
Barnier: Brexit is about ‘nostalgia’
Michel Barnier sparked fury yesterday by claiming ‘typically British’ nostalgia for the Empire was behind the Brexit vote.
The EU negotiator said Britons felt ‘abandoned’ by cuts, and suggested City figures wanted to leave because they did not like EU rules.
In an interview with the New York Review of Books he said Leavers voted for ‘the hope for a return to a powerful global Britain, nostalgia for the past – nostalgia serves no purpose in politics’.
Last night, former Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith told the Daily Mail: ‘Michel Barnier is fundamentally wrong. If anything, it’s nostalgia for proper democracy.’
And Jacob Rees-Mogg insisted that Leave voters stood for ‘self government, audited financial statements and the accountability of bureaucrats’.
In a strongly-worded intervention, the Chancellor cautioned against the ‘reckless promises of the populists’.
The report by the Onward think tank suggested a significant loosening of Mr Hammond’s rules to hold down debt as a share of GDP – saying it will unlock £190billion.
Under current plans, government debt is set to fall from 83 per cent to 73 per cent GDP in the next five years.
Report author Neil O’Brien, a Tory MP, said a new rule should aim to have debt flat or falling as a share of GDP, rather than reduce it so quickly. His report listed six key tax-and-spend priorities, such as increasing the number of police and prison places, and taking per-pupil school funding to a record high.
Mr O’Brien said future chancellors should set a roadmap to cut corporation tax to the Irish rate of 12.5 per cent, and suggested raising the National Insurance threshold to £13,000 for people with children – a tax break that would be worth £1,100 for a two-earner couple.
The report also called for changes to the benefit system to increase incomes for low-wage working households by up to £4,300 a year.
This diagram shows where the various Tory leadership candidates stand on Brexit
Tory MP ‘posts tweet instructions’
Tory MP Andrea Jenkyns appeared to post instructions on how she was told to react to the poll bombshell.
She tweeted a message in support of Dominic Raab which began with the words: ‘On the back of the Times poll tonight. We need to tweet…’.
She later deleted the tweet and replaced it with just the message.
Backing Mr Raab, she called him the ‘man with a plan’ to deliver Brexit.
Mr O’Brien said: ‘It’s time to turn on all the taps and make sure poorer families and poorer areas really feel the benefit of a growing economy.’
Environment Secretary Mr Gove said: ‘We need to show that it’s the Conservatives who offer the best alternative to Jeremy Corbyn as we set out a positive vision for the future of the UK.’
Health Secretary Mr Hancock said they had to deliver high pay and raise living standards to ‘keep the hard-Left out of Downing Street’ and ‘win the case for capitalism’.
He also committed to raising spending on research and development to 3 per cent of national income by 2025.
Mr Hunt, the Foreign Secretary, who has already suggested cutting corporation tax to Irish levels, said: ‘This is an inspiring vision.’
Insisting that the Tories will only succeed with a ‘positive, uniting vision’, Home Secretary Mr Javid added that the report was ‘a really important contribution’.
Michael Gove (left) and Jeremy Hunt (right) were among the contenders to endorse the report – by a centre-Right think tank – which calls on the Government to ‘turn on all the taps’
Miss McVey, the former Work and Pensions Secretary, said: ‘This has exactly the type of thinking we need to rebuild our Party, reconnect with the public and take the fight to Corbyn’s Labour Party.’
Leadership contender Dominic Raab has already pledged to cut income tax by a penny a year, which critics claim would cost £25bn.
But Mr Hammond said: ‘On the Left, the Labour Party characterises business as the real enemy. On the Right, the argument for radical tax cuts, deregulation and smaller government is gaining ground – just as our population demographics are making them harder to do.’
He said a gap had opened up in Britain and other developed countries between the ‘theory of how a market economy and free trade creates and distributes wealth, and the reality experienced by many ordinary people’.
Mr Hammond added: ‘We ignore that gap at our peril because if we do not address it, it will be filled with reckless promises of the populists.’
Trump says he could meet his ‘friends’ Boris Johnson and Nigel Farage during state visit to the UK next week praising them as ‘big powers’
Donald Trump has declared he could meet his ‘friends’ Boris Johnson and Nigel Farage during his state visit to the UK next week.
The US president heaped praise on the two politicians as ‘big powers’ – saying Mr Farage’s Brexit Party had won a ‘big victory’ in the EU elections last week.
The comments will fuel Downing Street fears that Mr Trump is set to deepen Theresa May’s humiliation by wading into domestic politics.
Mr Johnson is the favourite to take Mrs May’s job this summer after she finally resigned admitting she had failed to deliver Brexit, while Mr Farage’s fledgling party hammered the Tories at the polls.
Mr Farage said he would be ‘happy to’ get together with the president, although there are no formal plans in place.
It is understood Mr Johnson – who will need to weigh up whether the tacit endorsement from Mr Trump will help or hurt his chances – has not been invited to a meeting.
Speaking to reporters on the White House lawn, Donald Trump said he ‘may’ hold talks with Boris Johnson and Nigel Farage during his three-day trip to the UK
Speaking to reporters on the White House lawn, Mr Trump said he ‘may’ hold talks with the pair during his three-day trip.
‘Nigel Farage is a friend of mine. Boris is a friend of mine,’ Mr Trump said.
‘They are two very good guys, very interesting people.
What is happening during Trump’s state visit to the UK?
Monday, June 3
The Queen, joined by The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall, officially welcome The President and Mrs Trump at Buckingham Palace. Royal Gun Salutes fired in Green Park and at the Tower of London.
Private lunch at Buckingham Palace for the President and First Lady, hosted by Queen with Duke of Sussex
Tour of Westminster Abbey, where President will lay a wreath at the Grave of the Unknown Warrior.
Afternoon tea with the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall at Clarence House.
Full state banquet at Buckingham Palace
Tuesday, June 4
Business breakfast meeting at St James’s Palace with Theresa May and Duke of York.
Talks at No10 Downing Street followed by lunch with Mrs May, and a joint press conference.
President and Mrs Trump host a return dinner at Winfield House, official residence of the US Ambassador.
Wednesday, June 5
National Commemorative Event for the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings in Portsmouth, alongside over 300 D-Day veterans.
‘Nigel has had a big victory, he has picked up 32 per cent of the vote starting from nothing.
‘I think they are big powers over there, I think they have done a good job.’
Asked if he was supporting Mr Johnson and Mr Farage, Mr Trump said: ‘They are friends of mine but I haven’t thought about supporting them… I have a lot of respect for both of those men.
Mr Farage told MailOnline he would be ‘perfectly happy’ to meet Mr Trump, but no plans were yet in place.
‘We will have to see,’ he said. ‘I would be perfectly happy to, of course I would.
‘I last saw him a couple of months ago on the other side (of the Atlantic).’
It is understood that Mr Johnson – the front runner in the race to take over from Mrs May as PM – has not yet been invited to a meeting.
But a government source said: ‘If you’re the US president and you want to see someone, you find a way to make it happen.’
On his previous visit to the UK last July, Mr Trump embarrassed Mrs May by hailing the qualities of Mr Johnson, who had just resigned as foreign secretary.
The president said Mr Johnson was ‘a very talented guy’ who would make a ‘great prime minister’.
He said at the time: ‘I was very saddened to see he was leaving government and I hope he goes back in at some point. I think he is a great representative for your country.’
Mr Farage was famously the first senior UK politician to meet Mr Trump after he was elected as president – posing together by the golden elevator in his New York penthouse.
The US president heaped praise on the two politicians as ‘big powers’ – saying Mr Farage’s Brexit Party had won a ‘big victory’ in the EU elections last week
Mr Farage was famously the first senior UK politician to meet Mr Trump after he was elected as president – posing together by the golden elevator in his New York penthouse
There were claims that Mr Trump wanted the MEP to be made the UK ambassador to the US, although the idea was dismissed by the UK government.
Any meetings will have to be slotted into a packed schedule for the Trumps as they are given the full red carpet treatment.
Royal gun salutes will fire at the Tower of London and in Green Park to honour the US President and First Lady Melania Trump.
The Queen, 93, is hosting no fewer than four official events in tribute to Mr Trump, and Prince Charles and the Duke of York will be heavily involved too.
The President will also have lunch with Mrs May at Downing Street in one of her final ceremonial duties as Prime Minister.
Mr Trump is bringing four of his five children with him, including son Barron, 12, and his daughter Ivanka Trump and her husband Jared Kushner.