Sir Keir Starmer could soon face renewed calls to resign after a poll showed that he is heading for another humiliating defeat in Labour’s former northern stronghold.
According to a survey for the Daily Mail, the Conservatives are six points ahead of Labour in Batley and Spen in Yorkshire, where a by-election takes place on July 1.
And the Labour leader will be unable to escape the blame if the result is as bad as the Survation poll suggests. Boris Johnson is way ahead of him on almost every count, personally and politically.
Remarkably, the Old Etonian Prime Minister is seen as a better champion for the North than Sir Keir, whose father was a toolmaker.
Most damaging of all, one in two of those who voted Labour in the 2019 election say they would be more likely to vote for the party if Sir Keir stepped aside for Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham.
According to a survey for the Daily Mail, the Conservatives are six points ahead of Labour in Batley and Spen in Yorkshire, where a by-election takes place on July 1
Mr Burnham, a former Cabinet minister, has made no secret of the fact that he sees himself as a possible future Labour leader – and at 51, is six years younger than Sir Keir.
Victory in Batley and Spen would be the perfect tonic for Mr Johnson after his party’s thrashing at the hands of the Lib Dems in the Chesham and Amersham by-election on Thursday.
But coming hard on the heels of Labour’s shattering by-election defeat in Hartlepool in May, it could prove to be one northern annihilation too many for Sir Keir.
Labour has held Batley and Spen for nearly a quarter of a century and won the 2019 election contest with a 3,525 majority.
But the Conservatives are in the lead on 47 per cent, followed by Labour on 41, according to the Survation poll.
In third place, on six per cent, is the Workers Party, led by former MP George Galloway. Labour officials say many of its supporters in Batley and Spen, where nearly one in five voters are Muslims, have defected to the veteran pro-Palestine candidate.
Mr Johnson is seen as the ‘best Prime Minister’ by 55 per cent. Only 18 per cent say Sir Keir would do a better job in No 10. Barely one in three Labour supporters (36 per cent) say their leader would make a better premier.
Asked whether Mr Johnson or Sir Keir has the best policies, the Prime Minister wins by an average margin of nearly three to one on Brexit, the handling of Covid and the economy.
The Conservatives are in the lead on 47 per cent, followed by Labour on 41, according to the Survation poll
Even on the NHS, where Labour usually has a commanding lead, Mr Johnson beats Sir Keir by 45 to 30. A similar pattern emerges when voters in Batley are asked to assess the character of the two men.
Mr Johnson is seen as charismatic by nearly three times as many voters as the number who believe Sir Keir possesses that star quality.
Among all voters, Mr Johnson is seen as charismatic by 60 per cent, with Sir Keir only 23. Restricted to 2019 Labour voters, 51 per cent say Mr Johnson has charisma – but only 27 per cent attribute this quality to his rival.
Mr Johnson is regarded as stronger, more intelligent and – perhaps surprisingly, bearing in mind his colourful private life – more trustworthy.
One in two Batley and Spen voters (50 per cent) say Mr Johnson ‘has a clear stand’ on issues, but this falls to fewer than one in three (32 per cent) for Sir Keir.
Four in ten (40 per cent) believe that Mr Johnson is ‘best for the North’, with just three in ten backing Sir Keir.
A total of 49 per cent say they would be more likely to vote Labour in Batley and Spen at the next general election if he was replaced by Mr Burnham.
The Old Etonian Prime Minister is seen as a better champion for the North than Sir Keir, whose father was a toolmaker. Pictured: Johnson canvasing in Batley
Among all voters in Batley and Spen, 34 per cent say they would be more likely to vote Labour if Mr Burnham was leader, while 22 per cent say they would be less likely.
Defeat in Batley will be especially wounding for Labour.
Candidate Kim Leadbeater, who has won praise for her campaign, is the sister of the area’s hugely respected former MP Jo Cox, who was murdered by a Right-wing extremist in 2016.
Damian Lyons Lowe, of pollsters Survation, said: ‘A victory for the Conservatives in “red wall” Batley and Spen after the hammering in “blue wall” Chesham would give Boris Johnson some comfort.
‘Keir Starmer’s dire personal ratings mean it won’t be easy for him to distance himself from a Labour defeat.
‘The fact that half of those who voted Labour in 2019 in Batley say they would be more likely to vote for the party if Andy Burnham took over may lead to renewed calls for Starmer to step down.’
Last night Sir Keir suffered a further blow as his director of communications Ben Nunn resigned.
The by-election follows the resignation of Batley and Spen’s MP, former Coronation Street actress Tracy Brabin, who was recently elected Mayor of West Yorkshire.