General Election 2017 survey: How the north east plans to vote
The Conservative vote is set to soar in the north, according to an exclusive nationwide survey of voting intentions.
The survey, of nearly 10,000 people across Britain, suggests the Tories will benefit from a collapse of support for UKIP next month.
In the Labour heartland of the north east, 31.6% of respondents said they planned to vote Conservative on June 8 - even though only 25% of the same sample said they had done so in 2015.
By contrast, on 42.1% of respondents said they would vote Labour this time, compared to 44.7% who said they did so last time.
While 12% of north-easterners surveyed said they had voted UKIP in 2015, only 8% said they would do so next month.
Labour swept the board across Wearside two years ago, with Julie Elliott (Sunderland Central), Bridget Phillipson (Washington and Sunderland West), Grahame Morris (Easington) and Sharon Hodgson (Washington and Sunderland West) all increasing their share of the vote.
The rise of UKIP was one of the stories of the night, with the party claiming second place in three of the four constituencies, beaten into third place by the Tories on in Sunderland Central.
But post EU referendum, the picture is worryingly different for both parties.
A Labour North spokesman said: “Labour is fighting to win in every seat in the region.
“We have a strong track record of MPs who stand up for the region against the Tory Government which has made the North East and its people poorer over their time in office.”
UKIP spokesman Richard Elvin said: “This survey of voting intentions is in line with the current predictions although it must be remembered that polls can be wrong and it is still early days.
“Across the country it is generally considered that Theresa May would be a better negotiator than Jeremy Corbyn and the demographic breakdown of voting intentions is also in line with general predictions.
“Brexit may well not be a huge factor in this election, as I believe most people think it is a done deal, although I would disagree.
“The North East is a Labour strong hold. There is a lot of dissatisfaction with Labour. Many believe that they do not represent the views of their constituents.
“Many Labour voters will be looking for an MP who does truly represent them and work for them. Only time will tell who these dissatisfied Labour voters give their votes to.”
A Conservative spokesman said: “On June 8, people across the North East face a clear choice: between voting for Theresa May and her Conservative team who will provide the strong and stable leadership for us all, or a coalition of chaos led by a weak, floundering and nonsensical Jeremy Corbyn who will put all our futures at risk.”
Both the Lib Dems and the Greens could see similar vote shares in the region as in 2015.
Some 6% of respondents said they planned to vote Lib Dem, and 7% for the Greens.
North East Lib Dem spokesman Greg Stone said: “Labour’s electoral dominance of the North East is under serious threat at this election: voters are unconvinced by Corbyn and his team and we believe that several NE Labour MPs will lose their seats.
“There is likely to be a large Tory majority nationally and the country needs an effective Opposition. With Labour in freefall, the Lib Dems will seek to replace Labour as the real Opposition.
“In some areas, particularly in the south of the region, the fight will be between Labour and Conservative, but Lib Dems will be the challengers to Labour in Remain-voting constituencies.”
No-one was available to comment from the Green Party.
Jeremy Corbyn and his party seem to have strongest support in the North East among the young.
More than half (56%) of people aged 18 to 24 said they intended to vote Labour, while 57% of those aged 65 and over said they planned to vote for the Conservatives.
And while the North East’s vote last June may have been the first indication the UK was on its way out of Europe, the survey also reveals more than half of voters in the region (52%) claim Brexit will NOT be a factor in how they vote on June 8.
A majority of people in the region believe Theresa May would be a better Brexit negotiator than Jeremy Corbyn, with 50% of people in the region saying they think she will do the best job, compared to 38% for the Labour leader.
Confidence in Theresa May increases with age, with nearly three-quarters of those aged 65 and over (72%) thinking she would do the best job.
Those aged under 35 in the region are more likely to back Jeremy Corbyn as the best negotiator, with 52% of those aged 25 to 34 and 50% of those aged 18 to 24 saying the Labour leader would be best.
Nearly a quarter of people, 24%, are considering voting tactically in the general election, with a further fifth (22%) saying they don’t know.
The over-65s were the least likely to be considering a tactical vote - 65% said they weren’t - compared to just 39% of 18 to 24-year- olds who have ruled out a tactical vote.
The survey was carried out online in partnership with Google Surveys on newspaper websites, publisher sites and Google’s native app. A total of 9,741 people completed it nationwide.