Support for Conservatives plunges among gay voters

Tory party falls 5 points to 20 per cent after Grayling gaffe.

The Tories were fortunate that none of the papers chose to lead on the Chris Grayling story on Monday. If they had, David Cameron would be facing far more calls to sack his shadow home secretary.

But the party would be wrong to think that it had escaped from the row with no damage. A new PinkNews poll of more than a thousand LGBT voters shows that support for the Tories has fallen sharply since Grayling's gaffe and since Cameron's flustered interview on gay rights.

The poll puts support for the Tories down 5 points to 20 per cent, with Labour unchanged on 28 per cent and the Lib Dems up 5 points to 29 per cent.

Under our electoral system, small swings such as this could hurt the Tories in just the sort of Lib Dem marginals they need to win to secure an overall majority.

Cameron is expected to mention gay people specifically in his first speech after the election is called, describing them as part of the "great ignored". That's his way of telling his party: "No more gaffes like Grayling's, please."

PS: The Grayling story may not have been pursued hotly by the press, but it's had a big impact on the web. "Chris Grayling" is still trending on Twitter.

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George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.

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PMQs review: Theresa May shows again that Brexit means hard Brexit

The Prime Minister's promise of "an end to free movement" is incompatible with single market membership. 

Theresa May, it is commonly said, has told us nothing about Brexit. At today's PMQs, Jeremy Corbyn ran with this line, demanding that May offer "some clarity". In response, as she has before, May stated what has become her defining aim: "an end to free movement". This vow makes a "hard Brexit" (or "chaotic Brexit" as Corbyn called it) all but inevitable. The EU regards the "four freedoms" (goods, capital, services and people) as indivisible and will not grant the UK an exemption. The risk of empowering eurosceptics elsewhere is too great. Only at the cost of leaving the single market will the UK regain control of immigration.

May sought to open up a dividing line by declaring that "the Labour Party wants to continue with free movement" (it has refused to rule out its continuation). "I want to deliver on the will of the British people, he is trying to frustrate the British people," she said. The problem is determining what the people's will is. Though polls show voters want control of free movement, they also show they want to maintain single market membership. It is not only Boris Johnson who is pro-having cake and pro-eating it. 

Corbyn later revealed that he had been "consulting the great philosophers" as to the meaning of Brexit (a possible explanation for the non-mention of Heathrow, Zac Goldsmith's resignation and May's Goldman Sachs speech). "All I can come up with is Baldrick, who says our cunning plan is to have no plan," he quipped. Without missing a beat, May replied: "I'm interested that [he] chose Baldrick, of course the actor playing Baldrick was a member of the Labour Party, as I recall." (Tony Robinson, a Corbyn critic ("crap leader"), later tweeted that he still is one). "We're going to deliver the best possible deal in goods and services and we're going to deliver an end to free movement," May continued. The problem for her is that the latter aim means that the "best possible deal" may be a long way from the best. 

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.