Labour Narrows Gap With Ruling Conservatives Ahead of U.K. Vote

(Bloomberg) -- The Labour Party gained on the ruling Conservatives in four of five polls with two weeks until the U.K. election, with one of them signaling a possible hung parliament.

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. It was the smallest gap among five polls to be published Sunday.

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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.

Other polls showed the Tories with a lead as wide as 15 points, with Labour picking up as much as 5 points. One survey showed a 1-point drop for Labour.

POLLConservativeLabourLib-DemBrexit
BMG3933134
ComRes4333134
Opinium4631132
YouGov4334132
Deltapoll4532153

A Savanta ComRes survey for The Sunday Telegraph put the 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%. ComRes did an online survey Nov. 27-28 among 2,025 people.

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.”

In the YouGov survey for the Sunday Times, the Tories were unchanged at 43%, but a 2-point gain for Labour put Corbyn’s party at 34%. The Liberal Democrats were unchanged at 13% and the Brexit Party lost 2 points, to 2%. Polling was conducted Nov. 28-29 with 1,680 adults.

Conservatives had a 15-point lead over Labour in the Opinium survey conducted for The Observer, 46% to 31%, after the opposition gained 3 points. Liberal Democrats were at 13%. The poll interviewed 2,018 U.K. adults nationally Nov. 27-29.

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 BMG poll indicates no political fallout from Corbyn’s widely criticized BBC interview on Nov. 26, where he avoided apologizing for incidents of anti-Semitism 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 anti-Semitism 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.

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