May 13, 2019 / 6:53 AM / 8 days ago

UK PM May's party slumps to fifth place as pressure mounts for her to go

LONDON (Reuters) - British Prime Minister Theresa May’s Conservatives have fallen to fifth place in an opinion poll ahead of the May 23 European parliamentary election as pressure grows for her to set a date for her own departure.

Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party was in the lead, up four percentage points, on 34% while May’s Conservative Party had just 10%, the YouGov poll for the Times newspaper showed. The opposition Labour Party was down five points on 16%.

Two parties which support staying in the EU, the Liberal Democrats and the Greens, were on 15% and 11% respectively.

The collapse in support for the Conservative Party is piling pressure on May to set a date for her departure. Senior Conservatives want May to set out her plans this week.

Nearly three years since the United Kingdom voted 52% to 48% to leave the European Union, there is still no agreement among British politicians about when, how or even if the divorce should take place.

“The reason I am back today doing what I am doing is because frankly we’ve been betrayed by our career political class,” Farage told TalkRadio.

“If the Brexit Party comes out on top in a couple of weeks time, we must have a place at the negotiating table with the government to help put together our strategy.”

Britain was due to have left the European Union on March 29, though May has been unable to get her divorce deal approved by parliament so she has turned to the Labour Party, led by socialist Jeremy Corbyn, in a bid to court his support.

Labour’s Brexit pointman, Keir Starmer, told The Guardian newspaper that any cross-party deal lacking a confirmatory referendum would not pass parliament as about 150 Labour lawmakers would oppose such a deal.

MAY CLARITY

May, who secured the leadership in the chaos that followed Britain’s 2016 vote to leave the European Union, has promised to step down if lawmakers back the deal she struck with Brussels to leave the bloc.

But the prime minister has lost heavily on three attempts to get it through parliament.

Graham Brady, chairman of the 1922 Committee, which can make or break party leaders, said that May had been asked to give “clarity” about her future at a meeting this week.

The new deadline for leaving the EU is Oct. 31 though many Brexit supporters fear that the whole divorce could be derailed.

Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May leaves church, as Brexit turmoil continues, in Sonning, Britain, May 12, 2019. REUTERS/Simon Dawson

“We are at real risk of sleepwalking into remaining in the EU,” Brexit Secretary Steven Barclay wrote in the Sun newspaper.

“That is why I believe that it would be inexcusable for the Government to not use the coming months to continue to prepare for the real risk we leave the EU without a deal.”

He later wrote in Twitter that in a choice between a no-deal exit or staying in the EU, he would vote to leave without agreement.

Reporting by Guy Faulconbridge; editing by Michael Holden and Angus MacSwan

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