Senior Labour figures were engaged in a desperate battle to shore up the party’s support on Saturday night, amid warnings that its stance on Brexit was helping to “detoxify the Lib Dems”.
With just days left before the European elections at which Nigel Farage’s Brexit party is expected to triumph, shadow cabinet ministers are among those concerned that Labour’s ambiguous position on Brexit has helped revive the Lib Dems. It comes as new polling seen by the Observer suggests Vince Cable’s party is running in first place in London and could even beat Labour overall.
One senior party figure warned: “If the consequence of Labour’s Brexit position and this European election is to essentially detoxify the Lib Dems, then that’s a real problem.” Clive Lewis, a shadow Treasury minister, said “lifelong Labour voters” would not back the party this week due to its Brexit stance. He added: “It feels like we’ve given [the Lib Dems] the political equivalent of resuscitation.”
The fears came as it emerged that:
• London mayor Sadiq Khan has pledged that he will campaign for Remain “day and night” in any second referendum, as he urged voters, in an article for the Observer, to back Labour to stop a Farage victory.
• Theresa May is planning to make one last “bold offer” to MPs in a desperate attempt to secure support for her Brexit deal, including changes demanded by Labour, Democratic Unionist and Tory MPs and a new round of indicative votes.
• Labour MPs revealed they were already drawing up attempts to stop a no-deal Brexit should a hardline Brexiter replace May as prime minister, with some suggesting that revoking Brexit had to be a fall-back option.
An Opinium poll for the Observer found that the Liberal Democrats have narrowly overtaken Labour as the favourite party of remain voters, with 29% of the group now backing Cable’s party and 28% backing Labour.
Meanwhile, a wider poll found that the Lib Dems are set to top the poll in London and could even push Labour into third place overall in the European election.'
Read more: Labour panics as remain voters switch to Liberal Democrats
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