Nearly one-third of Conservative voters would prefer their party to form a coalition with Ukip if it fails to win next year’s general election outright.
The figure is only a fraction below the 31 per cent who would favour a continuation of the current partnership with Liberal Democrats in the event of a hung parliament in 2015.
But the Tory enthusiasm for a link-up with Nigel Farage’s eurosceptic party was not matched by Ukip voters, some 39 per cent of whom said that any MPs they secure next May should refuse to join any coalition.
But Britain’s first-past-the-post electoral system is likely to deny Mr Farage’s party more than a handful of MPs, and Michelle Harrison, the chief executive of TNS, the market research firm behind the survey, said it was questionable whether a Tory-Ukip coalition could be considered a “viable” option.
“Successive polls have indicated the possibility of no party winning an overall majority at the next election. In such an eventuality, this research suggests both Conservative and Labour supporters favour coalition with the Liberal Democrats,” said Dr Harrison.
The poll also suggested that Lib Dem support was much softer than that for the other parties. Of those saying they would vote Lib Dem in 2015, almost half said they might change their minds, compared to 34 per cent of Ukip backers, 24 per cent of Tory supporters and 22 per cent of Labour voters.
The poll also suggested that David Cameron’s offer to renegotiate Britain’s membership of the EU may not sway many voters. It was placed tenth out of a list of 10 policy priorities, with just five per cent naming it as their top priority. Topping the list were unemployment and investing more in health care.
Labour’s argument that most voters are not feeling the benefit from recovery was borne out by the 26 per cent who said it was harder to meet monthly household budgets now than a year ago. Only 11 per cent said it had become easier.