The breakaway party launched as The Independent Group in a blaze of publicity six months ago now has “zero support”, a survey has found.
The ambitious bid to remake British politics – now called The Independent Group for Change, after two chaotic name changes and a bitter split – fails to register in a poll of general election voting intentions.
But a defiant Anna Soubry, The Independent Group for Change’s leader, insisted it remained vital, as the Brexit crisis deepens, saying: “We will carry on.”
However, at 31 per cent – and with the Brexit Party on 12 per cent as a rival for anti-EU votes – Mr Johnson would be far from confident of winning if he calls a snap general election. The Liberal Democrats are on 19 per cent.
The “zero support” for The Independent Group for Change will revive memories of Paddy Ashdown’s comment that Liberal support was “an asterisk” when he took over in 1989.
In fact, its plight is far worse, because the Social and Liberal Democrats, as the party was then called, was actually standing at between 4 and 5 per cent in polls that year.
Ms Soubry’s party was rocked the embarrassment of being forced to change its name, just weeks after the painful split that saw Mr Umunna, then-leader Heidi Allen and four other MPs walk out in June.
Nevertheless, Ms Soubry, a former Conservative MP, struck a defiant tone, telling The Independent: “We will carry on, we have fixed some of our problems that we had and are on a much firmer footing.
Ms Soubry said her hopes for the party “may take longer than we hoped”, but insisted: “I don’t think I’m being over-optimistic. We have five MPs, but literally every vote counts now and we are now very strong, because the five are as one.”