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Euro-election campaign low-key in East - unless you're in the Brexit Party

PUBLISHED: 16:30 13 May 2019

Nigel Farage's visit to Clacton was the main interest in the European election in the East of England. Picture: JOE GIDDENS/PA WIRE

Nigel Farage's visit to Clacton was the main interest in the European election in the East of England. Picture: JOE GIDDENS/PA WIRE

Suffolk's political parties are preparing for next week's European elections - but for most there is not much enthusiasm for the fight.

Established political parties fear that Nigel Farage's Brexit Party will do very well at their expense - and also expect that confusion over centrist parties will split the vote of those who want to stay in the EU.

National opinion polls suggest that the Brexit Party is well ahead among those who say they are definitely going to vote in the European Elections on May 23.

One YouGov poll at the weekend showed the Brexit Party on 34% followed by Labour on 16% and the LibDems on 15%. The Greens were on 11% with the Tories back in fifth on 10% and Change UK on 5%.

Ipswich Conservative Association has already said it is not campaigning for the European Election. Chairman John Howard said members believed Britain should already have left the EU and there was no point in taking part.

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Elsewhere in the county, the party is also doing very little. One Tory said: "It's difficult enough to get members out campaigning at the best of times, so there's no point in pushing them on this!"

Labour is continuing to campaign in Ipswich - although without the intensity it was showing in the run-up to this month's local government elections. Sitting Labour MEP Alex Mayer will be joining party members on the doorsteps later this week.

Agent John Cook said: "In the run up to the locals we were out almost every day. You can't keep that kind of intensity up, but we're going out about twice a week - often to areas of the town we didn't concentrate on during the local campaign."

The Green Party and Change UK both have visits from their lead candidates to the region this week as they turn their attention to Suffolk - and the Liberal Democrats have renewed purpose after their strong showing in the local elections.

Mr Farage launched his party's local campaign in Clacton last month - getting an enthusiastic welcome from hundreds of supporters.

But the crucial thing for many politicians will be the turnout - some suggest this could be as low as 30% and that would certainly suit the Tories who would be able to claim that their supporters had simply stayed at home.

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