London: Is British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on course to win the upcoming UK general election with a comfortable majority? Or is the race tightening with a hung parliament the likely outcome come polling day on December 12?
According to two widely varying opinion polls released on Friday, either scenario is possible — adding to the Brexit confusion in what is only the UK’s second December election since the end of the Second World War.
There are 650 seats up for grabs in the election and the winner will need around 322 seats for a majority — Irish republican Sinn Fein MPs don’t take their seats, leaving the final critical number unknown until after the election.
According to a constituency-by-constituency poll and analysis by YouGov — the only pollster to correctly predict a hung parliament in 2017 — Johnson is cruising to a 68-seat majority.
The YouGov polls says that, if the election was held now, the Conservatives would win 359 seats, 42 more than they took in 2017. They would also take 43 per cent of the vote.
But pollsters have gotten it badly wrong before. According to a Savanta ComRes poll for the Daily Telegraph newspaper released midweek, Johnson’s lead over Labour has been cut to just 7 per cent.
Support for the Conservative Party fell a point to 41 per cent since last weekend, while Labour gained two points to 34 per cent, the poll showed.
Other polls in recent days have also showed a mark narrowing of Johnson’s lead over Labour.
That’s in stark contrast to the YouGov poll that says Labour are set to lose 51 seats, falling from 262 seats in 2017 to 211 now, and taking 32 per cent of the vote, a 9 per cent decrease.
This would be the party’s worst performance in terms of seats won since 1983.
Of the 76 Labour-held seats where they lead the Conservatives by fewer than 8,000 votes, Jeremy Corbyn’s party is currently behind in 43 of them, according to the YouGov analysis which has been released just over two weeks before polling day.
YouGov used the same method in the 2017 general election, when it accurately predicted the results in 93 per cent of constituencies, and pointed towards a hung parliament.
The Lib Dems, who are campaigning on rolling back Brexit, are currently on course to see their number of MPs increase by just one from 12 to 13, picking up four new seats while losing out in three they currently hold.
In Scotland, YouGov predicts the Scottish Nationalist Party are on course to secure a further eight seats.