LONDON — Theresa May’s honeymoon period is coming to an end.
Public satisfaction with her premiership has more than halved since she entered Downing Street, according to one poll out on Thursday.
Growing Brexit uncertainties, Conservative infighting, mediocre Commons performances, and public mockery over her choice of trousers, have all put a big dent in the facade of the woman who until recently was being labelled the second coming of Margaret Thatcher.
Footage yesterday of the prime minister standing lonely and awkward at an EU summit have crystalised the impression that she may not be quite the formidable political force that some had predicted.
Her party is suffering at the ballot box too. The Conservatives lost all four council by-elections they were defending last night.
Tonight’s Local By-Election summary
CON lose all 4 seats being defended 3 to the LDs & one to IND. Worst election night TMay’s leadership
— Mike Smithson (@MSmithsonPB) December 16, 2016
All of which you might expect to be fantastic news for the Labour party. However Jeremy Corbyn’s party is actually going backwards in the polls. One recent poll had them on their lowest level in opposition since 1983, while public satisfaction with Corbyn remains at subterranean levels.
No, in fact it is the Liberal Democrats, rather than Labour, who are benefiting from the end of May’s honeymoon. Ipsos Mori found the party have surged to 14%, their highest poll rating in five years. Of the four council by-elections the Conservatives lost last night, they lost three to the Lib Dems.
Tim Farron’s decision to transform his party into the party of the 48% is paying dividends. With Labour divided on whether Brexit and EU immigration are either a good or bad thing, liberal and pro-EU voters on the left are increasingly finding a more comfortable home within the Liberal Democrats.
It is still early days. The bounce from their victory in the Richmond by-election may fade and the Labour party’s decision to relaunch Jeremy Corbyn as a populist politician, as reported by the Guardian today, may yet crowd out the Lib Dems.
But as things stand there is only one party that is benefiting from a Brexit bounce and it is not the one led by the MP for Islington North.
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