Tories facing their worst ever national election defeat

The Conservative party is set to face its worst ever national defeat at the polls after a new survey found they are on course to come a humiliating third in this year's European elections.

The YouGov poll for the Sun newspaper found that Labour are set to win the elections with 32% of the vote, with Ukip coming second on 26% and the Tories coming third with just 23% of the vote.

This would be the worst ever result for the Tories in a national election and suggests that attempts by the party to fight off the Ukip threat are failing.

The poll is also worrying news for the Lib Dems who came a distant fourth on just nine per cent suggesting Nick Clegg's party are in danger of losing all of their current MEPs.

Clegg admitted today the party faced an "uphill struggle" at the elections, but said he would not alter the party's pro-EU stance.

The poll is likely to cause already restless Tory backbenchers to put even more pressure on the leadership for a much harder line on Europe.

Last week 95 backbenchers wrote to the prime minister demanding the Commons be given powers to veto every aspect of EU law.

The suggestion was quickly dismissed as unworkable by foreign secretary William Hague and fellow Cabinet member Kenneth Clarke.

If borne out the poll would be a welcome result for Labour, which has not come first in European elections since 1994.

Five years ago, the party came a poor third with just 15% of the vote.

It also suggests that widespread predictions that Ukip will win the European elections have been overstated.