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Monday, December 09, 2019, 14:44
UK: Rival leaders make final election push, Tories widen lead
By Reuters
Monday, December 09, 2019, 14:44 By Reuters

Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson, left, and Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn take part in a vigil at Guildhall Yard in London, Dec 2, 2019, to remember the London attack victims and honor members of the emergency services and bystanders who fought the attacker. (MATT DUNHAM / AP)

LONDON — Prime Minister Boris Johnson will travel to the heartlands of Brexit Britain in a final campaign blitz ahead of Thursday’s election, as he seeks to secure the parliamentary majority he needs to take the country out of the European Union.

While PM Boris Johnson has made the Dec 12 poll chiefly about ending the tortuous path to divorce from the EU, his main rival, the Labour Party led by Jeremy Corbyn, has focused on promises of sweeping economic steps to benefit struggling Britons

“We have just three days to make that a reality, three days to break the deadlock and avoid a hung parliament ... three days to get Brexit done,” he will say on Monday during a visit to Sunderland in the northeast of England.

The city was one of the first places to declare its residents had voted for Brexit after a referendum in 2016.

Johnson’s Conservative Party extended its lead over the Labour Party to 14 percentage points, up from 9 percentage points a week ago, an opinion poll by Survation for ITV’s Good Morning Britain showed on Monday.

The poll put Johnson’s party on 45%, up 2 points, compared to Labour’s 31%, down 2 points, before Thursday’s national election.

ALSO READ: UK PM Johnson promises lower immigration if he wins election

These headline figures are rounded to the nearest full point, which explains the discrepancy between the weekly increase in the Conservatives’ lead and the change in each party’s individual figure.

The poll also showed that 52% of respondents would consider voting tactically, versus 44% who said they would not.

The telephone poll of 1,012 respondents was conducted between Dec 5 and Dec 7. Respondents were read out the names of the parties and candidates that are standing in their own constituency. 

While Johnson has made the Dec 12 election chiefly about ending the tortuous path to divorce from the bloc, his main rival, the Labour Party led by Jeremy Corbyn, has focused on promises of sweeping economic steps to benefit struggling Britons.

Labour will pledge on Monday to begin delivering its plans to end public spending cuts and begin nationalizing industries within 100 days of taking office.

Johnson is ahead in opinion polls and forecast to win the 320 or so parliamentary seats he needs to finalize the EU divorce by Jan 31. But, with many areas expected to be very tight contests, even a small change in public opinion could cost him an outright majority.

That would lead to a hung parliament that many expect to result in a temporary government led by Corbyn. This would mean the Labour leader had limited powers to enact his economic reforms, but would see smaller parties coalesce behind holding a second Brexit referendum.

Labour, which would need a huge last-minute swing in public opinion to claim a majority of its own, has promised to negotiate a new Brexit deal with the EU and then to give voters a choice between leaving under that deal or staying in the bloc.

Corbyn’s campaign has centered on appealing to voters who are frustrated after almost a decade of spending cuts by successive Conservative-led governments.

READ MORE: Johnson, Corbyn clash in final debate before UK election

Labour is offering more public spending paid for by higher taxes on companies and the wealthy, hundreds of billions of pounds of infrastructure investment funded through borrowing, and a program of nationalization.

“When we win power it will be to give it to you,” Labour’s would-be finance minister John McDonnell will say during a speech on Monday.

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