May’s lead down to 5 pct as her campaign struggles
LONDONBritish Prime Minister Theresa May’s once formidable lead has been eroded to a slender advantage, an opinion poll indicated on June 2 as her campaign was dealt a blow when one of her candidates was charged with electoral fraud.
With less than a week before polling day on June 8, May’s Conservatives now lead the opposition Labour Party by just five percentage points, down from 15 just over two weeks ago, according to the survey from Ipsos MORI.
The poll put the Conservatives on 45 percent, down four points from a comparable survey on May 18, with Labour up 6 points to 40 percent.
“It is clear that on contact with the voters, Mrs May is not going down well and she is losing ground in particular amongst middle aged voters and female voters,” Ben Page, chief executive of Ipsos MORI, told Reuters.
Page said that Labour’s share of the vote included many younger voters who had not voted before. “Even with all those young people who say they are going to vote and may not, Mrs May should still win a majority so I wouldn’t sell your pounds yet,” Page said.
The findings echo other recent polls which show May’s once commanding lead of more than 20 points when she called the campaign being whittled away, meaning she might no longer win the landslide she hoped.
A projection by YouGov on June 2 even put May on track to win only 313 seats - 13 short of the 326 seats needed for a majority in parliament.
A failure to win the June 8 election with a large majority would weaken May just as formal Brexit talks are due to begin while the loss of her majority would pitch British politics into turmoil.
In a further blow to the Conservatives on June 2, one of its candidates who beat leading Brexit figure Nigel Farage in the 2015 parliamentary election, was charged with breaking expenses rules during that campaign.
Craig Mackinlay, 50, who is standing for re-election as the member of parliament for South Thanet in southeastern England, was charged with making false claims about his spending, Britain’s Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said. His election agent Nathan Gray, 28, and aide Marion Little, 62 were also charged.
A Conservative spokesman said the allegations were “unfounded” and there needed to be an overhaul of election laws, but the timing, just six days before Britons vote, adds to the party’s problems. “The Conservative Party continues to believe that these allegations are unfounded, Craig Mackinlay is innocent until proven guilty and he remains our candidate,” May told BBC television on June 2.
May, who won the top job in the political chaos following the shock June 23 Brexit vote, had hoped the election would strengthen her hand ahead of Brexit negotiations, and the party was expected to take advantage of the apparent weakness and disarray of its main rival.
However, Labour leader Corbyn, a 68-year-old socialist peace campaigner, has been pulling in big crowds at rallies across the country, brushing off warnings from opponents in his own party that he would lead them to electoral disaster.