UKIP Membership Up 15 Percent Since May’s ‘Soft’ Brexit Plan Revealed

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The UK Independence Party has seen a sharp rise in membership since Theresa May published her Chequers plan for a “soft” Brexit tied to many European Union (EU) rules.

Around 3,200 new members joined in July, an increase of 15 percent, which is believed to be due to Brexit-supporting Tories defecting.

UKIP’s membership currently stands at around 24,000 — almost half the 46,000 membership peak they hit in mid-2015.

“Just last month, 3,200 members joined UKIP across the UK. This is the third month of continuous growth and it’s a trend that’s expected to continue,” Paul Girvan, UKIP’s Regional Controller for Northern Ireland, said in a statement.

He added: “We are no exception locally. During the course of the past four weeks, our membership has risen in Northern Ireland by 33 percent! Rather than being finished here, we have only started.”

The party has also experienced a recent boost in the polls — of between two percent, five percent, or more — in a series of surveys since Mrs May revealed her “soft Brexit” plan at the beginning of July.

Matthew Goodwin, a politics professor at the University of Kent who has studied UKIP, told a Sky News podcast: “I think it could be pretty significant. Before Chequers, UKIP were averaging three percent, after Chequers they have been averaging about six percent.

“When you look at Conservative voters, people who actually voted for the Conservatives last year, about 60 percent say they are open to a party on the right that is unequivocally committed to Brexit.”

Interestingly, however, UKIP’s surge in support has seen Labour overtake the Tories in some polls, as the right-wing vote is split.

Mr Goodwin added: “In a tight election race, Labour versus Conservative, 10 percent going to UKIP, even seven percent or eight percent going to UKIP, could make all the difference.”

A poll from the 23rd of July showed that the British public is overwhelmingly opposed to the Prime Minister’s plan and almost a third of voters are prepared to back a new, right-wing party committed to a clean Brexit.

A survey from the 16th of July showed twice as many back a clean Brexit than those who want Mrs May’s plan, and one from the 17th showed more Brits view former UKIP leader Nigel Farage as a “leader” of people who back Brexit than they do Mrs May.

And, tellingly, the latter poll also revealed that more Tory supporters see Mr Farage as a head of the Brexit movement than their own leader.

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