Support for Nick Clegg crumbles

SUPPORT for the Liberal Democrats has collapsed, leading to fears of a split in the coalition government.

An ICM poll for the Sunday Telegraph shows support for the party has fallen to 16 per cent – its lowest rating in 18 months and well below the 31 per cent it enjoyed during the campaign.

Conversely, support for Tory coalition partners is up two per cent to 41 per cent while Labour has gained four points to 35 per cent.

And a YouGov/BrandDemocracy poll for the Observer shows that almost half of Lib Dems are considering tearing up their membership cards because of the party’s support for last week’s Budget.

Forty-eight per cent of voters that backed the Lib Dems at the election said they were thinking about abandoning the party after it backed a sharp hike in VAT from 17.5 per cent to 20 per cent.

In the run up to polling day, Nick Clegg campaigned against a “secret Tory VAT bombshell”, while business secretary Vince Cable said it would “stall any early recovery and hit shops hard”. The polls increase the likelihood of a Lib Dem rebellion against the Budget.