Tories leapfrog Labour

The Tories have leapfrogged the Government in the popularity stakes, according to a new poll.

The Tories under Michael Howard captured 40 per cent of the vote for the first time in more than 11 years, the YouGov poll for The Daily Telegraph shows.

The party has not reached that figure since the pound was forced out of the European Exchange Rate Mechanism on Black Wednesday.

The YouGov poll finds Labour trailing the Tories on 35 per cent with the Lib Dems on 19 per cent.

The Tories are up one per cent on December, while Labour is down three per cent The Lib Dems are up one per cent.

Worryingly for Tony Blair, who faces the uncertain outcomes of Lord Hutton’s report into the suicide of Dr David Kelly and the crucial Commons vote on tuition fees, public support for him as Prime Minister has dropped four points to 31 per cent.

But Michael Howard has failed to build on his 29 per cent score. The Lib Dem leader Charles Kennedy is down one point at 12 per cent.

Psephologists say if the 40 per cent figure is reflected in results at the next general election, the Tories could be returned to power.

Online pollsters YouGov questioned 2,536 adults across the UK between January 20 and January 22.