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Farage's approval rating slips

Nigel Farage's approval rating and the popularity of his party have both slipped according to a poll which gave Labour a seven-point lead over the Tories.

The Opinium poll for the Observer puts Labour on 36%, an increase of two points on a fortnight ago, with the Tories unchanged on 29%, Ukip down three on 16% and the Liberal Democrats on 6%.

Ukip leader Mr Farage's personal approval rating has slipped below that of David Cameron following a series of damaging headlines for the Eurosceptic party.

His net approval rating - the percentage of voters who approve of his performance minus those who disapprove - fell to -17%, eight points lower than a fortnight ago and the lowest recorded for him by Opinium.

Mr Cameron's rating fell by two points to -11%, while Ed Miliband's improved by three points to -28%, with Nick Clegg down one point on -48%.

Since the last Opinium poll Mr Farage has faced criticism for comments about breastfeeding in which he suggested that mothers should be willing to "sit in the corner" in restaurants while feeding babies to avoid offending people. The party has also been hit by the resignation of would-be MP Kerry Smith over a leaked recording of him making derogatory comments.

:: Opinium Research carried out an online survey of 1,957 GB adults aged 18+ between 16 and 19 December 2014. Results have been weighted to nationally representative criteria.

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