Michela Morizzo looks UK political polling result for the Daily Express
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The Lib Dems are currently favourite to win the Tiverton and Honiton by-election on Thursday following the resignation of Tory MP Neil Parish after he admitted watching porn in the Commons. But Conservative candidate Helen Hurford has accused her opponents of “taking voters for fools” after evidence emerged that they discussed “avoiding talking about” rejoining the EU to Leave voters in a bid to win them over.
The Lib Dems have hit back saying: “The Tory party is yet again lying to try save their law-breaking Prime Minister.”
The revelations come amid concerns that the Lib Dems have formed a “Rejoiner alliance” with Labour to allow each other to target different seats against the Conservatives with this week’s Techne/Express tracker poll showing Sir Keir Starmer can only form a majority with Sir Ed’s support.
Tiverton and Honiton voted 58 percent in favour of Leaving the EU while a mere 42 percent were Remainers which means the Lib Dems need to win over Brexiteers.
And the proposal for trying to dupe Leave voters emerged in a survey of 6,500 members earlier this year in which the Lib Dems, led by Sir Ed Davey, discussed how they would campaign on EU matters.
A subsequent blog by Duncan Brack, chairman of for the Federal Policy Committee’s Europe Group, reported back on the results.
He said: “The first question asked how you voted in the 2016 referendum. Completely unsurprisingly, over 91 percent voted to Remain. Most of the rest couldn’t vote (for example because they were too young); just 2.5 percent voted to Leave.
“No less than 95 percent would describe themselves now as Remainers (more than four-fifths of whom chose the option ‘Yes, I am a Remainer and I am proud of it’) and just 1.3 per cent described themselves as Leavers (a third of whom – 25 people – were proud of it).”
Crucially, the Mr Brack added: “We asked questions about the party’s target audience at elections: ‘The Liberal Democrats should pitch our appeal mainly to former remain voters by emphasising our belief that the UK should join the EU’ (score 3.6) and ‘The Liberal Democrats should pitch our appeal mainly to former leave voters by stressing the need to build a better relationship between the UK and EU, and avoiding talking about joining one day’ (score 3.9) – both positive, but neither exactly ringing endorsements.”
This is despite the fact that the party’s policy is to “to build closer links between the UK and EU, leading in the longer term to joining.”
The Lib Dems told Express.co.uk that the strategy of “avoiding talking about rejoining” was not adopted by the party when it settled its policy in March.
But the Conservatives claimed that the proposal is being used in Lib Dam campaigning.
Tiverton and Honiton Tory candidate Helen Hurford said: “The Lib Dems are taking voters for fools.
“As this damning evidence reveals, in areas like Tiverton and Honiton, they duplicitously hide and actively mislead on their divisive policy to overturn the referendum vote.
“It’s the same way they hide their policy to end the Conservatives’ fuel duty cuts and freezes and immediately reintroduce annual hikes in fuel duty.”
A Tory source rubbished Lib Dem claims they weren’t employing the strategy pointing out that they used an anti High Speed Rail 2 (HS2) campaign to win the Chesham and Amersham by-election even though they support the rail scheme.
The source said: “This is classic Lib Dem tactics they employ time and time again. From everything from HS2 to new housing to fuel duty, what they say on the doorsteps is quite literally the opposite of their national policies. They are as duplicitous as they come.”
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The Tory source added: “The Lib Dems are as slippery and duplicitous as they come.
“This is further damning evidence of how willing they are to say one thing to some voters, the complete opposite to others in their shameless and principle-free pursuit of votes.”
But the Lib Dems accused the Conservatives of lying to distract from Boris Johnson’s Partygate scandal.
A Lib Dem spokesman said: “The Tory party is yet again lying to try save their law-breaking Prime Minister.
“They are now peddling myths about a small survey which changed nothing. Frankly, this is complete baloney.
“You have to wonder what lie they will stoop to next in order to save Boris Johnson from being sacked by voters next week.”
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