Labour cuts Tory poll lead as sudden surge sees gap narrow two weeks before election

Findings likely to fuel Conservative fears of a repeat of 2017, when late Labour boost resulted in hung parliament

Benjamin Kentish
Political Correspondent
Tuesday 26 November 2019 12:04 GMT
Jeremy Corbyn ‘unfit for office’ over handling of Labour antisemitism, says Chief Rabbi

Labour is gaining ground on the Conservatives with just over two weeks to go until the general election, according to two new polls.

One survey suggested that the Tories’ lead has been cut to just seven points, while another found that it had shortened to 11 points.

The findings are likely to worry Tory strategists and fuel their fears of a repeat of 2017, when a Labour surge late in the campaign deprived the Conservatives of their governing majority.

Then, Labour had been polling in the low thirties until two weeks before polling day, when it began to climb and went on to receive 40 per cent at the election.

The latest survey by ICM suggested that Labour is up two points to 34 per cent, with the Tories falling a point to 41 per cent. The Liberal Democrats remain on 13 per cent, and the Brexit Party drops slightly to 4 per cent. The gap between the two main parties has narrowed from 10 points to seven in the past week.

The second survey, by Kantar, suggested that Labour has jumped five points in the last week and is now on course to secure 32 per cent of the vote, while the Tories have dropped two points to 43 per cent. A similar survey by Kantar last week gave the Conservatives an 18-point lead. The latest poll places the Lib Dems on 14 per cent and the Brexit Party on 3 per cent.

If the Kantar poll was replicated at the ballot box on 12 December, the Tories’ lead would likely be enough to guarantee them a commanding Commons majority. But the ICM survey suggests that the UK is on course for another hung parliament.

A third poll conducted in Wales gave Labour a six-point lead in the nation – a change from the start of the election campaign, when the Tories and Labour were neck and neck there.

All three polls were conducted in the last few days, suggesting that the Labour bounce was not directly linked to the launch of the party’s manifesto last week.

On Saturday, the party announced that it would spend £58bn compensating the “Waspi women” – the 3.8 million women born in the 1950s who lost out because of changes in the pension age.

Meanwhile the Tories have been dogged by accusations of promoting disinformation and have struggled to secure coverage of their policy pledges beyond delivering Brexit.

However, Labour’s hopes of a resurgence were dealt a blow on Tuesday when the chief rabbi warned that the party leadership’s response to antisemitism was “incompatible with the British values of which we are so proud – of dignity and respect for all people”.

Writing in The Times, Ephraim Mirvis said that “a new poison – sanctioned from the top – has taken root in the Labour Party”, and dismissed claims that the party was doing all it could to tackle antisemitism as a “mendacious fiction”.

He wrote: “How far is too far? How complicit in prejudice would a leader of Her Majesty’s opposition have to be to be considered unfit for office? Would associations with those who have incited hatred against Jews be enough? Would describing as ‘friends’ those who endorse the murder of Jews be enough? It seems not.

“It is not my place to tell any person how they should vote. I regret being in this situation at all. I simply pose the question: what will the result of this election say about the moral compass of our country? When 12 December arrives, I ask every person to vote with their conscience. Be in no doubt, the very soul of our nation is at stake.”

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