Election 2010 Lookahead: Thursday 22 April

The who, when and where of the campaign.

With another 16 days to go in this election campaign, here is what is happening today:

Labour

With Gordon Brown locked in a bunker with Alastair Campbell et al. trying furiously to stop him smiling, things are quiet today for Labour. Health Secretary Andy Burnham debates the future direction of health policy against his Tory and Lib Dem opponents at the Cavendish Conference Centre in Westminster (10.30am).

Conservatives

For those struggling to get their fix of David Cameron in the run-up to tonight's action, the Tory leader is featured on a CBBC election special this afternoon (4.35pm; see below). According to the BBC, Cambo has been out jogging in Bristol and insists he is "really, really enjoying" the campaign, despite yesterday's egging. Elsewhere, Shadow Health Secretary Andrew Lansley debates health in Westminster (10.30am).

Liberal Democrats

Ahead of the Bristol match-up, Nick Clegg visits a parent and toddler group in the city (11am), presumably ignoring the morning papers. Former Liberal Democrat Leader Charles Kennedy meets campaigners and voters in Cambridge with Lib Dem candidate Julian Huppert (11am). Health spokesman Norman Lamb is in Westminster with Messrs Burnham and Lansley debating health (10.30am).

The media

Dominating media coverage will be the build-up to tonight's Sky News Debate, hosted by Sky political editor Adam Boulton in Bristol and focusing on international affairs (8pm). Nick Clegg and the Lib Dems received a huge poll boost following the first debate on ITV last week, which drew peak viewing figures of 10.3 million.

At the BBC, David Dimbleby hosts Question Time in Greenwich, with a panel including William Hague, Yvette Cooper, and Menzies Campbell (10.35pm). The programme is broadcast live so that both the audience and panel can comment on the Bristol debate.

CBBC broadcast Election: Your Vote, a special featuring children interviewing David Cameron, Home Secretary Alan Johnson and Liberal Democrat MP Lembit Opik on key issues that matter to their age group. It is presented by Angellica Bell and the debate is chaired by Andrew Neil, in front of a live audience of 140 children. Sharon Osbourne, Julia Bradbury and Evan Davis appear as celebrity mentors (4.35pm).

On UTV, The UTV Leaders Debate sees the leaders of the four main parties discuss all the major issues facing Northern Ireland in the upcoming elections before an audience of first time voters, chaired by Jim Dougal (9pm).

Other parties

In Edinburgh, SNP Deputy leader Nicola Sturgeon joins Edinburgh East MSP and Justice Sec Kenny MacAskill, SNP Edinburgh East candidate George Kerevan and Edinburgh North and Leith candidate Calum Cashley in an SNP branded taxi "to make the point that only SNP MPs are championing stable fuel prices at Westminster" (10.15am).

Away from the campaign

If you think a lot of people will be watching the leaders debate, the NFL draft pulled in 39m viewers last year. The annual pick of college American football players by the huge sport franchises gets underway at 11.30pm (coverage on Sky Sports over the weekend).

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Voters are turning against Brexit but the Lib Dems aren't benefiting

Labour's pro-Brexit stance is not preventing it from winning the support of Remainers. Will that change?

More than a year after the UK voted for Brexit, there has been little sign of buyer's remorse. The public, including around a third of Remainers, are largely of the view that the government should "get on with it".

But as real wages are squeezed (owing to the Brexit-linked inflationary spike) there are tentative signs that the mood is changing. In the event of a second referendum, an Opinium/Observer poll found, 47 per cent would vote Remain, compared to 44 per cent for Leave. Support for a repeat vote is also increasing. Forty one per cent of the public now favour a second referendum (with 48 per cent opposed), compared to 33 per cent last December. 

The Liberal Democrats have made halting Brexit their raison d'être. But as public opinion turns, there is no sign they are benefiting. Since the election, Vince Cable's party has yet to exceed single figures in the polls, scoring a lowly 6 per cent in the Opinium survey (down from 7.4 per cent at the election). 

What accounts for this disparity? After their near-extinction in 2015, the Lib Dems remain either toxic or irrelevant to many voters. Labour, by contrast, despite its pro-Brexit stance, has hoovered up Remainers (55 per cent back Jeremy Corbyn's party). 

In some cases, this reflects voters' other priorities. Remainers are prepared to support Labour on account of the party's stances on austerity, housing and education. Corbyn, meanwhile, is a eurosceptic whose internationalism and pro-migration reputation endear him to EU supporters. Other Remainers rewarded Labour MPs who voted against Article 50, rebelling against the leadership's stance. 

But the trend also partly reflects ignorance. By saying little on the subject of Brexit, Corbyn and Labour allowed Remainers to assume the best. Though there is little evidence that voters will abandon Corbyn over his EU stance, the potential exists.

For this reason, the proposal of a new party will continue to recur. By challenging Labour over Brexit, without the toxicity of Lib Dems, it would sharpen the choice before voters. Though it would not win an election, a new party could force Corbyn to soften his stance on Brexit or to offer a second referendum (mirroring Ukip's effect on the Conservatives).

The greatest problem for the project is that it lacks support where it counts: among MPs. For reasons of tribalism and strategy, there is no emergent "Gang of Four" ready to helm a new party. In the absence of a new convulsion, the UK may turn against Brexit without the anti-Brexiteers benefiting. 

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.