The Tories would regain almost ALL activists who defected to The Brexit Party if Britain leaves the EU by October 31, poll finds
- Conservative Party got hammered by The Brexit Party at the European elections
- But new poll shows delivering Brexit by October 31 will see Tories return to party
- Poll shows some 92 per cent of Tory members will back party if deadline is met
The Tories will regain almost all of their members who defected to support The Brexit Party if the next prime minister sticks to the October 31 deadline for leaving the EU, a new poll suggests.
The Conservatives were absolutely hammered at the European elections as Tories ditched the party in their droves to back Nigel Farage’s new political vehicle.
But a new survey shows that Conservative Party members are ready to ditch Mr Farage and return home if the next prime minister delivers Brexit on time.
However, the poll also acts as a drastic warning to would-be prime ministers Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt as it shows almost half of Tory members will vote for someone else if Brexit is delayed again.
The poll shows just how important delivering Brexit by the current deadline is for the next leader of the Conservative Party.
Failure to meet the Halloween divorce date would seemingly have major ramifications for the future electoral viability of the party.
Mr Johnson has committed to delivering Brexit with or without a deal by October 31 as he described doing so as ‘do or die’.
But his plan to keep No Deal as an option risks a war with the House of Commons amid questions over whether MPs could block the UK from leaving the bloc without an agreement.
Meanwhile, Mr Hunt has also stressed the importance of leaving on time but has also said he would be willing to agree to a further delay if an acceptable deal with the EU was within sight.
The poll by Orb International for The Telegraph found that just 56 per cent of Tory members would vote for the Conservative Party at the next general election if the October 31 deadline is not kept to.
More than a third of the Tory grassroots, 35 per cent, would jump ship to back The Brexit Party while five per cent would vote Liberal Democrat.
However, if the UK does leave the EU on or by October 31 then some 92 per cent of Tory members would vote Conservative at the next general election.
Just five per cent would still vote for The Brexit Party and three per cent would back the Lib Dems.
The poll also showed that just 51 per cent of Leave-voting Tory members would vote for the Tories if Brexit is delayed again compared with 78 per cent of Remain-backing Tory members.
But if Britain is out of the bloc by October 31, 89 per cent of Leave-backing Tories and 89 per cent of Remainer Tories would vote for the Conservatives.
A source in Mr Johnson’s campaign told The Telegraph that it was clear ‘the only way to take on and defeat Jeremy Corbyn is to prick the twin puffballs of the Brexit Party and the Lib Dems’.
The data also showed that the swing back to the Tories from the Brexit Party would be fairly uniform across all membership age groups if Britain leaves on time.
The voting intention of male and female Tory members was also broadly the same.
Some 58 per cent of male members would vote Tory if Brexit is delayed again, compared to 62 per cent of female members.
But if Brexit is delivered on time, some 89 per cent of male members would vote Conservative and 87 per cent of female members.
It came as a separate survey suggested Mr Johnson had already won the Tory leadership contest, with three quarters of activists now having cast their votes.
A survey for the grassroots ConservativeHome website found the overwhelming majority have sent in their postal votes.
Some 72 per cent also said they had either backed or planned to back Mr Johnson – suggesting he already has an unassailable lead with two weeks to go until the result it announced.
The prospect of parliament trying to stop a No Deal Brexit has been a key theme during the Tory leadership race.
Mr Johnson has refused to rule out suspending parliament to stop MPs thwarting a disorderly divorce.
There is a growing movement on the Tory backbenches by moderate MPs opposed to No Deal to do everything they can to stop Britain leaving the bloc without terms.
Philip Hammond, who is expected to be replaced as chancellor regardless of who is the next PM, has emerged as a potential leader of that group of rebel Tories.
He suggested last night to ITV that he was prepared to be a ‘nightmare’ for the next prime minister on the backbenches.
Asked if he would jump before he was pushed if Mr Johnson takes the Tory crown in two weeks’ time, Mr Hammond said: ‘My expectation is that I will not be serving in the next administration.
‘But, I want to say this because I read some stuff in the papers earlier this week about how I would be a nightmare on the backbenches.
‘I will continue to argue vigorously against a no-deal Brexit.
‘And I will certainly do everything I can to prevent a no-deal Brexit without parliamentary approval.’