Nationwide support for the United Kingdom Independence Party has surged to 25 percent after the anti-EU party won its first seat in parliament, according to one shock survey out Sunday.
Populist UKIP, opposed to mass immigration as well as Britain s membership of the European Union, could win enough seats to hold the balance of power on such a level of support, an expert claimed.
The Survation poll in The Mail on Sunday newspaper put Prime Minister David Cameron s centre-right Conservatives and the left-of-centre Labour opposition neck-and-neck on 31 percent.
The centrist Liberal Democrats, the junior partners in the governing coalition, were on eight percent.
Survation interviewed 1,003 people online on Friday.
An Opinium poll in The Observer newspaper put Labour on 35 percent, the Conservatives on 28, UKIP on 17 and the Lib Dems on nine.
Some Conservative MPs have called for a pact with UKIP in seats where the anti-Brussels party might have a better chance of beating Labour, claiming the alternative was mutually-assured destruction through a split vote.
But UKIP leader Nigel Farage said Saturday he would not enter into a pact with the Conservatives ahead of the May 2015 general election, insisting they were not a splinter of the Tories.
UKIP were voted into parliament for the first time in a by-election on Thursday when Douglas Carswell, who defected from the Conservatives, retained his coastal Clacton seat in eastern England.
A second Conservative MP, Mark Reckless, has also defected and will fight a by-election, while Carswell told The Sunday Times newspaper that he had spoken to a Labour MP who was considering the switch.
The broadsheet said it had seen leaked UKIP polling analysis saying the party is now targeting 25 seats where they feel they can win.
John Curtice, professor of politics at Strathclyde University and an electoral behaviour expert, said that if the Survation poll ratings were translated into general election results, Labour could win 253 of the 650 seats in parliament, the Conservatives 187, UKIP 128, the Lib Dems 11, and other parties such as the Scottish nationalists, 71.
Today s poll suggests UKIP s support has increased much more in the south of England outside London than it has elsewhere in the UK -- by a staggering 34 points, Curtice said of the data behind the Survation poll.
If that level was recorded throughout the south, UKIP could win as many as 128 seats, with no less than 102 of them coming from the Conservatives, he told The Mail on Sunday.
Mr Farage would achieve his ambition of holding the balance of power at Westminster.
Labour leader Ed Miliband said UKIP was tapping into a seam of despair that his party could not ignore.
Writing in The Observer, he said he had developed a new approach to immigration in which migrants would have to earn the right to welfare.
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