Boris as Tory Lead Narrows Ahead of Polling Day: ‘This Could Not be More Critical, it Could Not be Tighter’

EU flag and Union flag-themed umbrellas of Brexit activists fly outside the Houses of Parliament in London on October 23, 2019. - British Prime Minister Boris Johnson could pivot towards a general election as the EU mulls granting a Brexit deadline extension on Wednesday, after a fresh twist to the …
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A YouGov poll released the day before voting stations open has revealed that the Conservatives’ lead over Labour has narrowed, with the pollster saying “we cannot rule out a hung parliament”.

The poll published on Wednesday places the Tories on 43 per cent followed by Labour on 34 per cent, with just a nine-point difference.

YouGov’s MRP model (Multilevel Regression and Post-stratification, which is used to produce estimates for small geographies) predicts that the Conservatives will gain 339 seats in the House of Commons, followed by Labour with 231, the Liberal Democrats at 15, and the Scottish Nationalist Party (SNP) with 41.

That would give the Conservatives a 28-seat majority — down considerably from the 68-seat prediction the same polling firm predicted just two weeks ago.

YouGov political research manager Chris Curtis told The Times: “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.”

The political betting market is also offering shorter odds on a potentially hung Parliament. British bookmaker Betfair slashed the odds of an overall Tory majority from 79 per cent to 69 per cent over night, while the likelihood of another hung parliament — the third in a decade — rose from 19 per cent to 29 per cent.

The chances of a Labour majority government remained stable at just two per cent, or 43-to-1.

Betfair’s Katie Baylis said of the polling movement: “Two days ago the Tories were 1/4 for an overall majority or an 80% chance, their shortest odds in two years, but in the last 48 hours and following publication of the MRP poll, their odds have continued to drift and are now at 4/9 a 69% chance, while No Overall Majority has shortened to 5/2 from 4/1 on Monday.

“Interestingly, the odds of No Overall Majority are shorter today than they were the day before the last Election in 2017 where it was 13/2 and just a 14% chance, compared to today, a 29% chance, which proves just how much can change in a day and we are expecting to see plenty of movement across all our Election markets in the next few hours as final campaigning takes place.”

On Wednesday morning, Prime Minister Boris Johnson admitted that the country could wake up to a hung parliament on Friday, telling talkRADIO: “This could not be more critical, it could not be tighter — I just say to everybody the risk is very real that we could tomorrow be going into a hung parliament.”

“Everybody remembers what happened a couple of years ago and everyone knows polls can be wrong,” he added.

The newspaper added that Labour could hold 18 seats that it was earlier predicted to lose, with the left-wing party improving six points in marginal seats that voted Remain, suggesting that Remainers are voting tactically by shifting their votes from other Europhile parties like the Lib Dems to Labour.

The pollster revealed that nearly one in five (19 per cent of) citizens would vote tactically in this election, rather than backing their first choice. The tactic may benefit the Remain-backing parties with a higher proportion of Liberal Democrat (36 per cent) and Labour (19 per cent) voters saying they would vote tactically, compared to just 12 per cent of Conservatives.

But the polling firm advises not to overemphasise the influence of tactical voters, saying “it is unlikely that tactical voting will be enough to stop a Tory majority”.

With regards to Labour marginals in Leave areas, the left-wing party has only increased by two points. Earlier this year, Jeremy Corbyn betrayed some five million 2017 Labour voters by reversing the party’s position to respect the result of the 2016 referendum by backing a second referendum.

Most Conservative gains are predicted to take place in areas that voted Leave in 2016, such as in the West Midlands, former mining areas in the East Midlands, the North, and County Durham — the Labour heartlands.

Labour is also said to be struggling in Brexit-backing North Wales, with six marginal seats being on track for a tight race tomorrow. YouGov even predicted that the Tories could win Wrexham, which Labour has won in every election since 1922.

YouGov placed Prime Minister Boris Johnson as the country’s most popular politician, with Nigel Farage in third place, and the Labour leader out of the top-ten in 12th position. With just a 21 per cent approval rating, 61 per cent have a negative opinion of the socialist, whose tenure as leader of the Opposition saw a rise in antisemitism in his party. However, he ranks most popular amongst millennials with a 33 per cent approval rating.

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