(Bloomberg) — The ruling Conservative Party maintained its lead over Labour with two weeks until the election, although one poll showed the gap narrowed by more than half, signaling a possible hung parliament that would stymie efforts to end the Brexit standoff.
With the vote on Dec. 12, a BMG Research poll for The Independent on Saturday showed support for Prime Minister Boris Johnson‘s Conservatives slipped 2 percentage points to 39%, while backing for Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour party jumped 5 points to 33%, the poll said. That 6-point lead is less than half the margin in BMG’s Nov. 21 survey.
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“The shifts we have witnessed in our headline voting intention figures take the Conservative lead from a likely majority into possible hung parliament territory,” Robert Struthers, BMG’s head of polling, told the Independent.
A Savanta ComRes survey for The Sunday Telegraph put Conservatives at 43%, up 2 points since last week, and 10 points ahead of Labour, which fell 1 point to 33%. The Brexit Party dropped 1 point to 4%. The Liberal Democrats were unchanged at 13%.
John Curtice, a polling and election analyst, said in the Telegraph that the findings suggested an “apparent erosion of the Conservative position may now have come to a halt.”
The BMG poll is the first to show a significant narrowing of the Conservatives’ lead, which had held in double digits for weeks. It contradicts one of the mostly closely watched surveys of the campaign, a YouGov study released last week using a technique that more closely predicted the surprise 2017 election result. That survey showed the Conservatives would win a 68-seat majority in Parliament in the upcoming vote.
Dominic Cummings, Johnson’s senior adviser who was instrumental in the success of 2016 Brexit referendum campaign, in a blog last week warned the Tories not to be complacent and said there was a “very real possibility” of a hung Parliament.
The new BMG poll, which surveyed 1,663 voters Nov. 26-27, also shows a 5-point drop in support for Liberal Democrats, to 13%, while the Brexit Party gained 1 point to 4%. The Greens were unchanged at 5%. ComRes did an online survey Nov. 27-28 among 2,025 people.
The poll indicates no political fallout from Corbyn’s widely criticized BBC interview on Nov. 26, where he avoided apologizing for incidents of antisemitism linked to the party. The questions from the BBC came in response to a scathing editorial by the U.K.’s chief rabbi, Ephraim Mirvis, in which he wrote that Corbyn’s pledges that the party was confronting antisemitism amounted to a “a mendacious fiction” and that he was unfit to lead the U.K.
The dust-up distracted Corbyn and Labour from focusing on pledges to overhaul the U.K. economy and expand investment in the health care system that had begun to resonate with voters. He plans to speak about the public health at a rally in Leeds on Saturday and deliver a major speech on foreign policy on Sunday.
The BMG poll was conducted before the Nov. 29 terror attack in London that prompted both men to temporarily suspend campaigning, and will likely make security and responding to terror threats a central theme ahead of the election.
To contact the editors responsible for this story: Giulia Camillo at [email protected], Steve Geimann, Linus Chua
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