After weeks of conflict in the Conservative Party, public support for Labour stands at 41 per cent, five points clear of the Tories on 36.
If repeated at an Election, Labour would be on course to win 307 seats, while the Conservatives would claim just 264.
Although Mr Corbyn would be 19 seats short of a majority, it would leave him in pole position to enter No 10 if he could strike an deal with the Scottish Nationalists.
When the 11-strong Independent Group of Labour and Tory MPs is included in the poll choices, Labour is still ahead, on 35 per cent, with the Tories on 32 per cent and the new group – now called Change UK – on nine per cent.
Jeremy Corbyn would be poised on the threshold of Downing Street if Theresa May (pictured today at church in Maidenhead) called a General Election, an exclusive Mail on Sunday poll has found
Jeremy Corbyn would be poised on the threshold of Downing Street if Theresa May called a General Election, an exclusive Mail on Sunday poll has found
Although Mr Corbyn would be 19 seats short of a majority, it would leave him in pole position to enter No 10 if he could strike an deal with the Scottish Nationalists
The findings by Deltapoll represent a sharp turnaround for Mr Corbyn from last month’s MoS poll when the Tories enjoyed a seven-point cushion.
The new poll also shows that Boris Johnson enjoys a clear lead among the electorate in the race to succeed Mrs May as Tory leader, with more than twice the level of support of his closest rival, Home Secretary Sajid Javid.
Environment Secretary Michael Gove is the next most popular, followed by Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt, former Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab and Chief Secretary to the Treasury Liz Truss.
The results will be seized upon by supporters of Mr Johnson. He has traditionally been more popular in the country than he is among the Tory MPs who would determine the final two candidates for a run-off among party members.
It will also embolden him in his battle with Mrs May’s allies in No 10 and at Tory HQ who have been plotting to sabotage his bid to take over the reins of power.
In a desperate bid to win support for her deal, Mrs May promised her party’s hardline Brexiteers that she would step down if they dropped their opposition, only to lose the vote anyway.
The new poll also shows that Boris Johnson enjoys a clear lead among the electorate in the race to succeed Mrs May as Tory leader
The poll shows that nearly two-thirds of voters think that Mrs May should resign – 41 per cent say she should do so immediately, with a further 23 per cent saying she should do so if her deal is passed by the Commons. Just 22 per cent want her to stay.
In a desperate bid to win support for her deal, Mrs May promised her party’s hardline Brexiteers that she would step down if they dropped their opposition, only to lose the vote anyway.
It is clear that the country is as divided as the Commons over a way through the Brexit quagmire, with the public evenly split on options such as pursuing a No Deal, holding a second referendum or cancelling Brexit altogether. Deltapoll’s Joe Twyman said: ‘Theresa May has threatened the rebel MPs in her party with a General Election if they do not finally come around and support her Brexit deal. These results, however, show just what a kamikaze risk that may be.
‘Choosing to call an Election when so far behind in the polls could be seen as the bravest or worst decision ever made by a British Prime Minister in modern times.’
- Deltapoll interviewed 1,010 British adults online between March 28 and 30, 2019. The data has been weighted to be representative of the British adult population as a whole.
Conservatives are caught up in all-out civil war over Theresa May’s ‘kamikaze’ election plan should her deal be defeated a fourth time with aides and MP’s divided over the best way forward
Theresa May is today weighing up what one ally describes as ‘a menu of equally unpalatable options’ – any one of which could lead to the swift collapse of her stricken Government.
Her exhausted Downing Street operation is staring at an invidious choice if her deal is voted down again this week: either accept the likely bidding of MPs and keep the UK in a customs union – thus splitting her party down the middle – or turn her face against the Commons by calling a ‘kamikaze’ Election.
A further option – leaving the EU with No Deal – was heavily defeated when the Commons voted on it earlier this month.
Calls for the Prime Minister to trigger an Election immediately have been led by Mrs May’s Political Secretary Stephen Parkinson, who has argued that ‘events will lead to one anyway so we might as well be on the front foot’.
Opposition to a snap poll is being orchestrated by Chief Whip Julian Smith, who has said he is fighting it with ‘every sinew in his body’.
Theresa May is today weighing up what one ally describes as ‘a menu of equally unpalatable options’ – including triggering an election. Pictured: Mrs May on the steps of Downing Street on April 18, 2017 – the last time she called a General Election
Labour is also ready to table a vote of no-confidence this week in Mrs May’s Government if it senses that Tory arch-Brexiteers will vote to bring down the Prime Minister
Even those advisers who lean towards calling an Election cannot decide if Mrs May should lead the campaign, or whether a leadership contest should be compressed into a few days and decided only by MPs at Westminster.
The Cabinet is equally divided, with Work and Pensions Secretary Amber Rudd, Chancellor Philip Hammond, Justice Secretary David Gauke and Business Secretary Greg Clark all urging Mrs May to accept a customs union – with the implicit threat that they will resign if she does not.
But Cabinet Brexiteers, orchestrated by Commons Leader Andrea Leadsom, are implacably opposed and are likely to quit if Mrs May starts to negotiate membership of a customs union with the EU.
Ms Leadsom’s ‘pizza club’ – which she founded last year to discuss Brexit strategy over takeaways in her Commons room – agreed yesterday to block efforts to join a customs union.
A senior Government source said: ‘Theresa is trapped between aides and Ministers, all urging her with equal passion to do different things.’
The pressure has been ramped up by the letter sent by 170 Brexit-supporting Conservatives demanding the UK leaves the EU on April 12 ‘with or without a deal’, and asking for assurances that Mrs May will not commit the country to a long extension or participating in the European Parliament elections on May 23. Last night, there were reports that the letter was organised by Ms Leadsom, and also signed by other Cabinet Ministers including Sajid Javid, Jeremy Hunt and Michael Gove.
A source close to one of the letter’s signatories said last night: ‘The letter reaffirmed our commitment to the manifesto, and to the PM’s own determination to seek a short extension to Article 50 that avoids the EU elections.’
The Cabinet is equally divided, with Work and Pensions Secretary Amber Rudd, Chancellor Philip Hammond, Justice Secretary David Gauke and Business Secretary Greg Clark all urging Mrs May to accept a customs union. Pictured: Oliver Letwin, who organised indicative votes earlier this week
Mrs May is also considering delaying Brexit and stepping down, with Boris Johnson the favourite to replace her
Will she really risk it? The four options
Option 1 – May calls Election this week
After her 2017 Election disaster that saw Jeremy Corbyn wipe out her majority, the PM would be incredibly wary about going to the country again. But she knows that without a change to the numbers, the House of Commons will remain deadlocked.
Option 2 – Confidence vote sparks Election
If disgruntled Tories side with Labour in a vote of no confidence and Jeremy Corbyn is unable to form a government within 14 days, the country will be plunged into an Election anyway. Given that it looks inevitable, No 10 is split on whether to jump first.
Option 3 – PM accepts customs fudge
If Parliament orders the UK to stay in the customs union, Mrs May could be forced to abandon a cherished ‘red line’. Accepting it would blow up her party as hundreds of Tory MPs loathe the idea, including six Cabinet Ministers.
Option 4 – Delay Brexit, change leader
If Mrs May’s deal is defeated a fourth time, her political capital will be utterly spent and she will face a chorus of calls to quit. Brexit could be delayed for a new leader to be chosen and the Tories will go to the country with a fresh face in charge.
The Chief Whip’s opposition to an Election – which is shared by No 10 Chief of Staff Gavin Barwell – increased after he was briefed about Mr Corbyn’s plans to hit Mrs May with a ‘decapitation strategy’ if an Election is called.
Tory whips say Labour has drawn up plans to target a string of the party’s biggest stars – including Boris Johnson, Ms Rudd and ex-leader Iain Duncan Smith – and will pour thousands of activists into Tory seats in London and the South that are ‘vulnerable’.
One senior Tory MP in the South-East was overheard admitting at Westminster last week that ‘we’ve all had it’ if an Election was called soon. Labour is also ready to table a vote of no-confidence this week in Mrs May’s Government if it senses that Tory arch-Brexiteers will vote to bring down the Prime Minister.
However, Labour’s battle plan was last night dismissed as ‘bravado’ by one of its own Shadow Ministers, who claimed the party was simply not ready to fight an Election.
And party insiders also warn that Labour could lose all seven of its Scottish seats, effectively destroying any hopes Mr Corbyn has of getting a Commons majority.
Mrs May’s Election threats have sent a shiver down the spine of many Tory MPs in the South-East defending thin or vulnerable majorities. Top of Mr Corbyn’s attack list is Ms Rudd’s Hastings and Rye seat, where she is defending a wafer-thin 346 majority over Labour. Her role as Work and Pensions Secretary makes her doubly vulnerable, say Corbyn strategists.
But Labour boasts it can also claim the scalp of would-be party leader Mr Johnson in his Uxbridge seat in West London. He is defending a 5,034 majority but Labour’s vote locally has soared in recent years.
Today marks the second day of Brexit protests after thousands of demonstrators rallied in the nation’s capital yesterday
Pro-Brexit ‘yellow vest’ protesters demonstrate in London for the second day following Theresa May’s defeat in Westminster
Activists were seen holding British flags and wearing yellow high-visibility vests, similar to those worn by French protesters
Brexit supporters shout through megaphones and carry placards saying ‘My leave vote matters, I won’t be gagged’
Also in the Labour firing line are former Education Secretary Justine Greening in Putney (majority just 1,554 over Labour) and Mr Duncan Smith, the former Tory leader. He is defending a majority of only 2,438 in Chingford and Woodford Green. One senior Labour MP said last night: ‘London is basically a Labour city and the enthusiasm for Corbyn is still running very high. All those top Tories are going to struggle to cling on if Mrs May does fire the Election starting gun any time soon.’
The party is also aiming to eject Labour defectors in the new Change UK independent group, including Chuka Umunna in Streatham, South London.
Some Labour figures scoffed at the ‘decapitation’ claims, with one warning any gains in the South would be ‘cancelled out’ by losses in the North. One said: ‘Now we’ve started openly backing a second referendum much more than before, we’re really losing Brexiteer votes in the North.
‘When and if the Election comes, it really will be a case of holding on to what we have rather than making gains.’ Labour has 245 seats against the Tories’ 314.
The Labour plans emerged as Mr Corbyn declared it was time for ‘the sensible people’ to take over talks with the EU – even though he sparked fury from many Brexit voters last week by ordering his MPs to vote down Mrs May’s deal.
Mr Corbyn also refused to say whether he would offer an option to remain in the EU during a second round of indicative votes in the Commons tomorrow.
Speaking in Newport, South Wales, ahead of this week’s by-election, he accused Mrs May of ‘bullying and threatening people’.
Prime Minister blames Boris Johnson and Dominic Raab for ‘blowing up’ her Brexit deal after last-minute agreement with DUP fell through because they ‘doubted the pair were Unionists’
They claimed a last-minute accord fell through because of doubts among the Northern Irish party that Mr Johnson and Mr Raab were ‘really Unionists’.
A senior Cabinet Minister told The Mail on Sunday that the two men had met the DUP as the Prime Minister desperately tried to persuade the party’s ten MPs to add their crucial support to her deal.
May’s allies claimed a last-minute accord fell through because of doubts among the Northern Irish party that Mr Johnson (pictured) and Mr Raab were ‘really Unionists’
A senior Cabinet Minister told The Mail on Sunday that the two men (Raab is pictured) had met the DUP as the Prime Minister desperately tried to persuade the party’s ten MPs to add their crucial support to her deal
But the Minister – a close ally of Mrs May – said the DUP had suspicions about how strongly former Foreign Secretary Mr Johnson and ex-Brexit Secretary Mr Raab really felt about the Union.
The May ally suggested that the DUP had doubts over how strongly either man would defend the Northern Ireland position if they became Prime Minister.
He said: ‘One of the things that put the DUP off is that they met Boris Johnson and Dominic Raab and decided that they were not really Unionists.’
The backing of the DUP is seen as vital to any hopes Mrs May has of getting her Brexit plan over the line.
But the party has held firm against it, with its Westminster leader Nigel Dodds saying: ‘I would stay in the EU rather than risk Northern Ireland’s position.
‘That’s how strongly I feel about the Union.’
The May ally suggested that the DUP had doubts over how strongly either man (Johnson pictured with May in 2017) would defend the Northern Ireland position if they became Prime Minister
Mr Dodds has consistently raised fears of Northern Ireland being reduced to a separate status from the rest of the UK because of the Brexit backstop agreed between Mrs May and Brussels.
However, there were also reports that privately the DUP had been split 7-3 in favour of backing the Prime Minister’s deal but in the end maintained a united front to oppose it.
Last night, friends of Mr Johnson dismissed the claims that he had ‘put off’ the DUP.
They pointed out that he had been feted by the party when he attended their annual conference in Belfast, when he railed against the danger of having to ‘leave Northern Ireland behind as an economic semi-colony of the EU’ and of ‘damaging the fabric of the union’.
Allies of Mr Raab also dismissed the claims.
May’s plot to block Boris: Prime Minister wants to delay Tory leadership battle until party conference in October to stop Johnson benefiting from ‘Brexit bounce’ if Britain leaves EU
Conservative chairman Brandon Lewis has told friends that if Mrs May survives the coming weeks, then Downing Street hopes to delay the final stages of the contest until the gathering in Manchester – in the hope it will deprive Mr Johnson of an immediate ‘Brexit bounce’ if Britain has left the EU.
Allies of Mrs May believe that a long contest would offer the best chance for the leadership to skip a generation, allowing a ‘dark horse’ candidate such as Tom Tugendhat, James Cleverly or Mark Harper to surge through the ranks.
THE FAVOURITE: Boris Johnson has three times the support of his closest rival in leadership polling. But the darling of the party faithful has an uphill struggle convincing MPs to put him to the membership
THE RUNNER: Michael Gove is running everyday, and not just to be Prime Minister. The Brexiteer believes he is the only one who can see off hardliners and unite remainers
THERESA IN TROUSERS: Jeremy Hunt (left) is seen as a safe pair of hands but other MPs worry he is a bit too boring. He needs to move fast to shake the comparisons to Theresa May’s cautious steady-as-she-goes style. THE KARATE KID: Dominic Raab (right) is a Brexit purist but risks putting off more moderate MPs with his hardline Brexit stance. Clean cut with a black belt in Karate, his good looks hide a ruthless streak
Under the plan, the leadership contenders would parade their wares to the party faithful before a final vote by the Tory membership. It would also, they believe, allow Mrs May to be given a ‘dignified’ send-off by the party.
No 10 is furious about the leading role played by Mr Johnson and fellow Brexiteer Dominic Raab in opposing Mrs May’s deal – until they performed a U-turn in Friday’s vote.
Who’s the real top dog in the Gove household?
Michael Gove’s wife Sarah Vine has lifted the lid on the real battle to be top dog – the one raging in their home.
Like the Tory Party leadership contest, this battle erupted last week after bichon frise Snowy got top billing by being pictured on their doorstep next to would-be Prime Minister Mr Gove.
Gove’s dogs Muffin, Monkee and Snowy (left to right)
But as columnist Ms Vine revealed on Twitter, that only provoked the couple’s other two pets. ‘Muffin and Monkee say why is Snowy getting all the attention – look how damn cute we are,’ she tweeted.
A friend of Mr Lewis said: ‘By the time we reach the autumn, everyone will be heartily sick of hearing Boris and Raab banging on about Brexit, and will be in the mood for a new face – or at least a more acceptable one such as [Foreign Secretary] Jeremy Hunt.’
A Eurosceptic source said: ‘If they try this there will be a riot. Whoever takes over will need a decent run-up to the Brexit trade negotiations, to have the right team in place and devise a clear and coherent strategy’.
The main leadership contenders – Mr Johnson, Mr Hunt, Mr Raab, Home Secretary Sajid Javid, Environment Secretary Michael Gove and Chief Secretary to the Treasury Liz Truss – will tomorrow step up their courting of Tory MPs.
It has been claimed that Mr Hunt is the frontrunner, with between 75 and 100 MPs ‘in the bag’, followed by Mr Gove with between 40 and 50 MPs.
However, both men privately dispute the figures and a poll in today’s Mail on Sunday by Deltapoll shows that former Foreign Secretary Mr Johnson is almost three times as popular as his nearest rival. Claims Mr Johnson has pledges of support from 80 Tory MPs have been dismissed by his camp as ‘well wide of the mark’.
It comes as the Cabinet contenders all unveiled their operations, with MPs starting to openly declare to each other who they are backing.
Mr Johnson’s key allies Conor Burns and Jake Berry have been joined by Brexiteer hardliner Simon Clarke.
Mr Gove’s campaign is being aided by Pensions Minister Guy Opperman and Treasury rising star Mel Stride.
Mr Javid, who is said to be struggling to drum up significant levels of support, is being backed by Treasury Minister John Glen and former Minister Robert Halfon, a university friend.
Mr Raab has support from Brexit Minister Chris Heaton-Harris and former whip Sir Robert Syms. He has also hired two of Mr Gove’s former special advisers, Beth Armstrong and James Starkie, to boost his office staff.
THE SAJ: The Home Secretary is said to be struggling getting support from colleagues after a choppy few months. He as an amazing backstory, but MPs fear he’s not ready
THE FREEDOM FIGHTER: Liz Truss wants to inject a bit red meat into the race with a clarion call for freedom against the nanny state. Picking up a lot of support with younger MPs of the right
Meanwhile Mr Hunt’s camp includes Steve Brine, who resigned last week in protest over Brexit, former Cameron-era Minister Philip Dunne, and junior Government aide Alan Mak.
Mr Hunt’s status as frontrunner last week came under sustained attack from rival camps which have nicknamed him and Mr Javid ‘The TiTs’ – short for Theresa in Trousers.
Iain Duncan Smith the VERY unlikely soft-top heart-throb
Iain Duncan Smith’s arrival to see Theresa May at Chequers in his £25,000 Morgan 4/4 last week made headlines and turned the former Tory leader into an unlikely heart-throb.
Iain Duncan Smith pictured in his £25,000 Morgan 4/4
‘He’s been getting fan mail from middle-aged women all week asking for a ride,’ a Commons source said.
It is not the first time IDS’s soft-top motor has hit the headlines – we first revealed his ‘Mr Toad’ look, below, back in 2003.
One Minister said: ‘We let the managers have a go last time and that went well. It’s time for someone with a bit of flair.’
And another branded Mr Hunt ‘a Diet Coke version of Theresa May’.
Mr Hunt was by far the most active candidate last week, addressing MPs on Monday, followed by a wide-ranging midweek interview.
This weekend he tried to burnish his ‘statesman’ credentials with an article in the Washington Post newspaper in which he defended Britain’s presentation in the foreign media as a crime-ridden dystopia mired in political chaos.
He wrote: ‘Please put aside the doom-laden commentary and accept my assurance: we British are neither abandoning our neighbours nor retreating from the world.’ He was also seen wooing Amber Rudd at the expensive Corinthia Hotel off Whitehall, and The Mail on Sunday has learned he offered to make her his replacement as Foreign Secretary if he won a leadership contest.
However, Ms Rudd’s wafer-thin majority in Hastings would make extensive international travel a tough ask. Their breakfast plotting came as Ms Rudd, who many Remain-backing MPs want to run herself, emerged as a powerful ‘kingmaker’ figure.
Remainers and left-wing Tories will today launch a new ‘Compassionate Conservative’ group, to counter the Brexiteers. The 40-strong body will be headed by Ms Rudd as well as other ‘wets’ Damian Green, Nicky Morgan and Sir Nicholas Soames.
The group will seek to hold their own leadership hustings and rally behind a single candidate with the best hopes of defeating a Brexit hardliner from the European Research Group. Meanwhile, Mr Raab has been warned he will lose if he becomes the ‘poster boy for the ERG’.
Remainers and left-wing Tories will today launch a new ‘Compassionate Conservative’ group, to counter the Brexiteers. The 40-strong body will be headed by Amber Rudd as well as other ‘wets’ Damian Green, Nicky Morgan and Sir Nicholas Soames
One MP said: ‘There is so much anger in the party at the behaviour of the nutters, that anyone who gets their backing en masse is f***ed.’
Allies of Mr Gove say his pitch to the MPs will be that he is the only Brexiteer who can unite the party – as it is highly likely a Remain-supporting candidate would be trounced in a vote of party members. Yet Mr Gove has proven with his support of the PM that he is not a hardliner.
A source said: ‘Michael is the only one who can beat the ERG out there in the country and stop us becoming a far-Right party.’ Mr Gove and Mr Javid were spotted have lunch together on Thursday in the House of Commons, with both camps dismissing reports that Mr Gove could endorse Mr Javid. A source in the Gove team said: ‘More like the other way round.’
Mr Javid would be a powerful endorsement for any frontrunner, but after a series of gaffes he is failing to attract the levels of support he might have hoped for. One MP said: ‘It’s always buddy this and buddy that, but I’m not sure he’s got what it what it takes to win people over.’
Last night luxury bookmakers Fitzdares told The Mail on Sunday that the firm was yet to receive a single penny in bets on favourite Michael Gove – and that all the flutters on Boris Johnson had come from females.
CEO Will Woodhams said: ‘Someone asked for odds on Winston Churchill’s grandson Sir Nick Soames, saying “only a Churchill can sort this mess out”. We gave him 250/1.’