General election: Boris Johnson likely to win small majority but hung parliament still possible, poll finds

Volatility of electorate means outcome of historic general election remains up for grabs

Andrew Woodcock
Political Editor
Wednesday 11 December 2019 19:11 GMT
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An eve-of-election poll by BMG Research for The Independent has put Conservatives on 41 per cent, Labour on 32 and Liberal Democrats on 14, pointing towards a small overall majority for Boris Johnson’s party but leaving open the possibility of a hung parliament.

The survey of more than 1,600 voters, conducted between 6 and 11 December, found headline voting figures unchanged from a similar poll last week.

If repeated on 12 December, they point to a Johnson majority of around 25-30 in the House of Commons, freeing the prime minister to press ahead with taking the UK out of the EU on 31 January.

But given the volatility of the electorate and the margin of error inevitable in any poll, the prime minister continues to be dogged by fears of an indecisive outcome which would result in his ejection from Downing Street.

And the poll suggested that Mr Johnson’s hopes of pushing through Brexit will not be welcomed by a majority of voters, with 54 per cent of those questioned saying they want to remain in the EU against 46 per cent who want to leave.

BMG research manager Rob Struthers told The Independent: “A 9-point gap may appear comfortable for the Conservatives, but it is important to note that the margin or error around the estimates means that a hung parliament is not entirely out of the question.

“For instance, a slightly higher Labour vote share and a slightly lower Conservative share – well within the margin of error – would reduce the gap to in the region of six points, a figure which would raise the possibility of a hung parliament. So whilst a Conservative majority looks like the most likely outcome, it is by no means a certainty.”

The poll suggested that neither Mr Johnson nor Labour’s Jeremy Corbyn will find it easy to unite the nation if they find themselves in 10 Downing Street on Friday.

Some 29 per cent said they would be “appalled” at a Johnson victory, against just 15 per cent who said they would be “delighted” and 23 per cent “relieved”. One third (33 per cent) said that a Conservative majority would make them worried about Brexit, 29 per cent worried about the economy and 21 per cent worried about the UK’s security.

If Mr Corbyn were to become PM, 37 per cent of those questioned said they would be appalled, while 13 per cent would be delighted and 20 per cent relieved. Almost four in 10 voters (38 per cent) would be worried for the economy, 34 per cent worried about Brexit and 33 per cent worried for the UK’s security, the poll found.

Just 19 per cent of those questioned said they regarded Mr Johnson as trustworthy, against 53 per cent who did not. While he was viewed as dynamic and full of energy by almost half (47 per cent), just 20 per cent said he understood the problems of people like them, 36 per cent thought him capable of handling Brexit and 35 per cent thought he could keep the UK safe from terrorism.

On the same measures, Mr Corbyn was seen as trustworthy by 27 per cent, against 48 per cent who think he is not. Some 34 per cent said he understood the problems of people like them, 25 per cent thought him capable of handling Brexit and 23 per cent thought he could keep the UK safe from terrorism. More than half (52 per cent) said he was not a strong leader and almost half (48 per cent) did not regard him as competent.

Mr Struthers said: “Reflecting on the campaign, it is clear that whilst Labour have managed to increase their support at the expense of the Liberal Democrats and the Greens, this increase has been matched by the Conservatives taking votes from the Brexit Party.

“Given that the Conservatives have been helped by the Brexit Party’s decision to stand down in more than half of seats, you could argue that Labour’s so-called squeeze has been more hard-earned. However, the net effect – in terms of the share of the vote at least – has been roughly equal.

“If the Conservatives are to win a majority, this will largely be because Labour appears to have failed to win back the support of those who voted for them in 2017 but were telling pollsters at the outset of the campaign that they were intending to back the Conservatives. Our final pre-election poll shows that around one in 10 2017 Labour voters – most of which backed Leave in 2016 – say they intend to back Boris Johnson this time around, a figure which is actually slightly higher than we saw at the outset of the campaign.”

- BMG Research interviewed 1,660 GB adults between 6 and 11 December.

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