January 16, 2014 / 8:14 AM / 5 years ago

UKIP ahead of Conservatives in Europe vote - poll

LONDON (Reuters) - Prime Minister David Cameron’s Conservatives are set to finish behind the anti-EU UK Independence Party in an election to the European Parliament, putting them on course to finish third in a nationwide poll for the first time, a poll showed.

The leader of the UK Independence Party (UKIP), Nigel Farage, listens at a fringe meeting at the annual Conservative party conference in Manchester, northern England September 30, 2013. REUTERS/Toby Melville

The YouGov survey for the Sun newspaper found 26 percent of respondents would vote for the UK Independence Party (UKIP) in the May European election with 23 percent backing the Conservatives and the opposition Labour Party leading on 32 percent.

Cameron’s coalition partners, the pro-EU Liberal Democrats, face the prospect of losing all their European lawmakers with their support falling to 9 percent, the Sun said on Thursday.

UKIP, which came second behind the Conservatives in the last European Parliament poll in 2009 winning 17 percent of the vote, has enjoyed a surge in support, partly because of concern about immigration which it seeks to limit.

The issue has garnered much attention this month after the lifting of restrictions on Romanian and Bulgarian citizens’ right to work in Britain on January 1 - something previous polls showed Britons were worried about.

Other polls have shown Conservative voters are increasingly turning to UKIP, which has never won a seat in Britain’s parliament, because they welcome the party’s plan to end Britain’s European Union membership and drastically cut immigration.

Thursday’s YouGov poll found voting intentions would be significantly different when it came to a national election which is due in 2015, with Labour on 39 percent leading the Conservatives by six points, and UKIP on 12 percent.

Reporting by Michael Holden; editing by Guy Faulconbridge

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