HEART­LANDS SNUB COR­BYN

Brexit re­volt in tra­di­tional Labour seats could hand Boris vic­tory

Scottish Daily Mail - - News - By Si­mon Wal­ters

A RE­VOLT by Labour vot­ers in the north of Eng­land and Mid­lands against Jeremy Cor­byn’s bid to block Brexit could hand Boris John­son vic­tory in next month’s Gen­eral Elec­tion.

The Tories are on course to win about 30 seats in Labour’s English heart­lands on De­cem­ber 12 thanks to a dra­matic swing against Mr Cor­byn’s party since the 2017 elec­tion, ac­cord­ing to a Daily Mail poll.

It means the Con­ser­va­tives are poised to tri­umph in work­ing-class seats they have rarely – if ever – held, such as Bishop Auck­land, Great Grimsby, Rother Val­ley, Stoke on Trent North, Work­ing­ton and Bas­set­law. All are in ar­eas which voted to leave the EU.

The Sur­va­tion poll, car­ried out af­ter Mr Cor­byn un­veiled his £83bil­lion man­i­festo, sug­gests Labour has been over­whelm­ingly re­jected by its tra­di­tional sup­port­ers. It is the first elec­tion opin­ion poll this year to fo­cus on the north of eng­land and Mid­lands.

Re­mark­ably, the poll also found that four in ten Labour vot­ers (39 per cent) would be more likely to vote Labour if the party got rid of Mr Cor­byn. And one in four Labour vot­ers (23 per cent) pre­fer Mr John­son’s Brexit pol­icy.

The find­ings in­di­cate that Mr Cor­byn’s so-called ‘Red Wall’ of seats from North Wales to Durham will be breached by the Tories.

Labour sup­port in the vast re­gion has slumped by 11 points to 37 per cent since the 2017 elec­tion. The Tories are on 42 per cent – down two points since 2017. The Lib Dems are on 13 per cent, up from 5 per cent in 2017, with the Brexit Party on 7 per cent.

Mr Cor­byn is pay­ing a heavy price for his EU fence-sit­ting – 9 per cent of those who backed him in 2017 have de­fected to the pro-Brexit Tories; an­other 11 per cent have de­fected to Jo Swin­son’s anti-Brexit Lib Dems.

The big­gest Labour-Tory swing is in North­West Eng­land, in­clud­ing Manch­ester and Liver­pool, where Labour had a 19-point lead over the Con­ser­va­tives in 2017. That has been slashed to just two points.

The Tory lead over Labour in the East Mid­lands has soared from ten points in 2017 to 18 points. And the Con­ser­va­tives have slashed Labour’s lead in York­shire and The Hum­ber re­gion by nine points, putting them one point be­hind.

Cru­cially, the Con­ser­va­tives have leads of up to 20 per­cent­age points in 43 Labour-held seats they are tar­get­ing in the North and Mid­lands. Mr John­son needs a swing of just 5 per cent to gain 16 Labour seats, in­clud­ing Wake­field, Keigh­ley, Bar­row, Dud­ley North and New­cas­tle-Un­der-Lyme.

A swing of 10 per cent would see an­other 14 go from red to blue, in­clud­ing Bas­set­law, Dews­bury, Bolton North East and Dar­ling­ton. A 15 per cent swing would see an­other 13 Labour seats cap­tured by Mr John­son, in­clud­ing the for­mer pit vil­lage of Bolsover in

Der­byshire, held by vet­eran Labour MP Den­nis Skin­ner, and Tony Blair’s old con­stituency, Sedge­field in County Durham.

Damian Lyons Lowe, of Sur­va­tion, said: ‘The fig­ures sug­gest that even with the Brexit Party con­test­ing Labour-held seats, Labour is vul­ner­a­ble in places it has held for decades. The ef­fect of the dis­pro­por­tion­ate fall in Labour sup­port in this poll will vary from seat to seat. How­ever, the Tories will be con­fi­dent of win­ning all tar­get seats in the North and Mid­lands where they need a 5 per cent swing, many of those where up to a 10 per cent swing is re­quired, and pos­si­bly oth­ers too.’

The north of Eng­land and Mid­lands has be­come the key elec­tion bat­tle­ground. With the Con­ser­va­tives ex­pected to lose seats in Scot­land and pro-Re­main ar­eas in

Lon­don and the South, Mr John­son must ad­vance in the North and Mid­lands to win a ma­jor­ity.

Cor­byn al­lies say a deep-seated loathing of the Con­ser­va­tives in work­ing-class com­mu­ni­ties in the north of Eng­land and Mid­lands means they are safe for Labour.

But John­son aides say Mr Cor­byn’s Brexit ‘dither and de­lay’, al­lied to a sense that North­ern and Mid­lands Labour vot­ers feel alien­ated from his Is­ling­ton brand of Left-wing pol­i­tics, pro­vides a po­ten­tial break­through.

The poll found that Mr John­son is re­garded as best Prime Min­is­ter by 46 per cent of vot­ers, while 30 per cent say Mr Cor­byn would do a bet­ter job in No 10.

A to­tal of 3,082 peo­ple took part in the poll in the East Mid­lands, West Mid­lands, York­shire and the Hum­ber, North East and North West on Thurs­day and yes­ter­day

‘Labour is vul­ner­a­ble’

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