Labour melt­down as Boris threat­ens to top­ple red wall

The Mail on Sunday - - December 12 Battle For Britain - By Glen Owen and Bren­dan Car­lin

CIVIL war has bro­ken out in the Labour Party over Boris John­son’s opin­ion poll lead – with proRe­main MPs be­ing blamed for the loss of Brexit-back­ing vot­ers.

The Con­ser­va­tives have main­tained a con­sis­tent lead in the polls, with to­day’s Mail on Sun­day­commis­sioned Deltapoll sur­vey giv­ing them a 13-point ad­van­tage.

The fail­ure of Jeremy Cor­byn to re­peat the ‘surge’ of 2017, which de­stroyed Theresa May’s Com­mons ma­jor­ity, has un­leashed a bat­tle be­tween the hard-Left and mod­er­ate wings of the party over who should re­place him as leader if Labour crashes to de­feat on De­cem­ber 12.

Mr John­son is pin­ning his hopes on smash­ing the ‘red wall’ of con­stituen­cies in the Mid­lands and the North which have his­tor­i­cally voted Labour, but are swing­ing to­wards the Tories be­cause of Mr Cor­byn’s opaque Brexit pol­icy.

A sep­a­rate sur­vey to­day, based on anal­y­sis of the bet­ting mar­kets in each con­stituency, points to a Tory ma­jor­ity of 24.

The Smar­kets data shows that po­lit­i­cal gam­blers are in­creas­ingly bet­ting against Labour in for­mer stronghold­s such as Bishop Auck­land, which has never sent a Tory MP to the Com­mons but is given a 62 per cent chance of do­ing so this month.

Deltapoll puts the Tories up two per­cent­age points to 45 per cent, with

Labour on 32 per cent. This would give Mr John­son a ma­jor­ity of 92 if the fig­ures turned into a uni­form swing on Elec­tion night.

But the head­line fig­ures mask wide vari­a­tions ac­cord­ing to age, gen­der and per­sonal Brexit lean­ings.

While the Tories com­mand the sup­port of 70 per cent of those who backed Leave in the 2016 ref­er­en­dum, only 15 per cent are plan­ning to back Labour on De­cem­ber 12.

The gen­er­a­tional di­vide is also stark: among 18-to-24-year-olds, just 23 per cent are plan­ning to vote Tory, com­pared to 63 per cent back­ing Labour. Among the over-65s, a whop­ping 68 per cent are plan­ning to vote Tory. Only 14 per cent in­tend to vote Labour. Men are more en­thu­si­as­tic about Mr John­son than women, with 50 per cent plan­ning to vote Tory, com­pared with 40 per cent of women – a split which has been de­scribed as ‘Boris’s woman problem’.

With Mr John­son ap­pear­ing to be on course for a ma­jor­ity, Labour sources say cam­paign man­agers loyal to Mr Cor­byn are de­lib­er­ately block­ing proRe­main Lon­don MPs Sir Keir Starmer and Emily Thorn­berry – both lead­er­ship con­tenders from the mod­er­ate wing – from mak­ing TV ap­pear­ances. Cor­bynista favourites such as Re­becca Long-Bai­ley and Laura Pid­cock are said to be pre­ferred for the most pres­ti­gious me­dia slots in­stead.

Labour have re­acted to the threat to their ‘red wall’ by vow­ing to change strat­egy and con­cen­trate on woo­ing

pro-Leave Labour vot­ers across the Mid­lands and the North. North­ern Labour can­di­dates fear the switch may have come too late, and are fu­ri­ous about the party’s ad­vo­cacy of a se­cond ref­er­en­dum and sup­port for Re­main.

They blame a ‘ca­bal’ of North Lon­don party fig­ures, led by Sir Keir and Ms Thorn­berry, for putting pressure on ‘closet Brexiteer’ Mr Cor­byn to appeal to Re­main vot­ers.

One se­nior Labour fig­ure de­fend­ing a North­ern seat said last night: ‘We told the party lead­er­ship time and time again that this “Made In Is­ling­ton”, North Lon­don proRe­main pol­icy would cost us dear in the North. In­stead, we’ve had what looks like an anti-Brexit strat­egy cooked up in Lon­don where the main en­emy is the Lib­eral Democrats, when here in the North it’s the Tories. It’s been ab­so­lutely pa­thetic lead­er­ship from the top.’

The source ac­cused Mr Cor­byn’s in­ner cir­cle of a ‘snobby at­ti­tude to­wards the North of Eng­land’ and called for a ‘clear-out’ of the lead­er­ship of­fice – in­clud­ing key ad­viser Seu­mas Milne.

But party sources hit back by claim­ing in­ter­nal polling now had the Tory lead down to sin­gle dig­its.

Joe Twyman, co-founder of Deltapoll, warned the Con­ser­va­tives that their lead could shrink in the fi­nal days of the cam­paign, say­ing: ‘The dif­fer­ence be­tween a ma­jor­ity for Theresa May in 2017 and the hung par­lia­ment she ended up with was just 75 votes.

‘The un­der­ly­ing data still strongly favours the Con­ser­va­tives, in­clud­ing Boris John­son’s per­sonal rat­ings com­pared to Jeremy Cor­byn… (but) the Con­ser­va­tives will want to guard against com­pla­cency while Labour will be hop­ing for a strong fin­ish and that their sup­port­ers, par­tic­u­larly their younger vot­ers, turn out.’

Deltapoll in­ter­viewed 1,528 Bri­tish adults online be­tween Novem­ber 28 and 30. The data has been weighted to be rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the Bri­tish adult pop­u­la­tion as a whole.

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