LONDON (AFP) – Britain’s political leaders criss-crossed the country for the final day of general election yesterday, campaigning as a key poll showed the outcome could be hanging in the balance.
Conservative Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Labour main opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn were set for whistlestop tours of key battleground seats in a frantic last push for votes.
Today’s snap general election was called in a bid to break the Brexit deadlock that has gripped Britain ever since the seismic 2016 referendum vote to leave the European Union (EU).
After struggling to lead a minority administration, Johnson is hoping to secure a majority government that will enable him to take Britain out of the EU on January 31. His centre-right Conservatives have been consistently ahead in the opinion polls but YouGov’s final survey of the campaign predicted they were set only for a narrow majority – with the race tightening.
The pollsters’ seat projection put the Conservatives on course for a relatively slender 28-seat majority in Parliament’s 650-member Lower House of Commons – down from a comfortable 68 forecast by YouGov on November 27.
The new poll forecast that the Conservatives would take 339 seats (up 22 on the last general election in 2017), with the left-wing Labour main opposition on 231 (down 31).
The Scottish Nationalist Party (SNP) was on course for 41 seats, up six, while the Liberal Democrats are set for 15 seats, up three.
YouGov warned that the final number of Conservative seats could be between 311 – hung parliament territory – and 367.
“The margins are extremely tight and small swings in a small number of seats, perhaps from tactical voting and a continuation of Labour’s recent upward trend, means we can’t currently rule out a hung Parliament,” said YouGov’s Political Research Manager Chris Curtis. The pollsters interviewed approximately 100,000 panellists over the past seven days.
Johnson, 55, was to start the day delivering milk in Yorkshire, northern England, and end it canvassing in Essex, northeast of London.
“Unless we get out of this quicksand of a Brexit argument, our future as a country remains uncertain… a lost decade of division, delay and deadlock,” he said.