Voters will decide the outcome of the United Kingdom general election one week from today, and the Conservative Party is holding a modest lead in most polls amid debate from all sides on how to pursue Brexit.
The BBC’s poll tracker, which measures more than 200 polls, showed as of Tuesday that 42 percent of respondents favoured the Conservatives and 31 percent favoured Labour.
While some polls, such as one published Monday by inter- national pollster Kantar, show the Conservative Party maintaining a solid lead with the potential for winning an overall majority in Parliament, others including a BMG survey from Friday indicate the Labour Party has been picking up more voters in recent weeks. Polls show the Conservatives netting as high as 46 percent of the vote or as low as 38; Labour receives as high as 35 percent or as low as 27.
Political analysts are saying it’s still difficult to predict if such a close election will end up in a divided government.
Johnson and Corbyn
Party leaders are working hard to solidify their positions in the days before the election.
Since a historic televised debate featuring incumbent Prime Minister Boris Johnson representing the Conservative Party and Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, the political figures have been drawing lines in the sand on specific issues.
Mr. Johnson, for example, accused Labour of wanting to dis- band the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, known as NATO.
Ahead of United States President Donald Trump’s arrival in London this week to at- tend the NATO Summit, Mr. Corbyn sent the president and UK prime minister letters about a post-Brexit trade deal. The letters specifically sought to keep the UK’s National Health System out of Brexit negotiations and prevent the US from potentially selling higher-priced medications in the UK’s pharmaceutical market.
Regarding negotiations with the US, Mr. Johnson said, “The NHS under no circumstances will be on the table for negotiations for sale.”
Messrs. Johnson and Corbyn, however, were absent from the debate stage on Sunday, making way for members of the smaller parties to speak directly to voters.
Representatives from seven parties — the Conservative, Labour, Liberal Democrat, Scottish National, Plaid Cymru, Green and Brexit parties — debated one another on Sunday on live television.
The future of Brexit took top billing.
Nicola Sturgeon, leader of the Scottish National Party and first minister of Scotland, said the upcoming election is the “most important in our lifetime.”
“At stake is not just Brexit, but what kind of society we want to be,” Ms. Sturgeon said, emphasising the party’s desire for Scotland to operate as an independent country. “We are determined that the people of Scotland must have the right to make that choice.”
Green Party co-leader Siân Berry said in her opening statement, “Brexit would change things for the worse, and I’ll be hopeful and say that I believe you want that final say.”
The Labour Party is pushing for a public “final say” vote on Brexit, while the Conservative Party aims to finalise Britain’s exit from the European Union by the end of January.
“Everyone is fed up … with the way Parliament has been paralysed by Brexit,” said senior Conservative Rishi Sunak, who pledged the party would put a new Brexit deal in front of Parliament before Christmas.
Labour’s Richard Burgon rallied against tax cuts for big business and said the party would focus on rebuilding the country.
Adam Price of Plaid Cymru urged voters to look beyond the two major parties in pursuit of progress.
“Where others put Wales last, we will put our people first,” he said. “Because we want them to feel hope again in those beating Welsh hearts.”
Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage said, “I formed the Brexit Party because I want to get Brexit done properly. I want us to become an independent nation. That is what the vote was for — to leave the institutions of the EU and to be self-governing.”
Jo Swinson, leader of the Liberal Democrats, questioned the prime minister’s ability to resolve Brexit quickly and said Mr. Johnson would “stitch up deals with Donald Trump.”
In the polls
Political experts are analysing how the recent debates translate to votes.
Polling data published Monday by Kantar shows the Conservative Party edged forward by one percentage point since Nov. 26, with 44 percent of respondents saying they would vote in favour of the party. The Labour Party held steady at 32 percent, and the Liberal Democrats gained a point, topping out at 15 percent.
Kantar polled about 1,100 people in Great Britain from last Thursday to Monday and noted a stark divide between younger and older voters. Among those 55 years old and younger, Labour leads at 39 percent to 36. With voters older than 55, Conservatives win 53 percent to 23 percent.
Almost 40 percent of all surveyed voters said Brexit is the most important issue to them when choosing a party.
Other polls show a smaller margin between the leading parties. BMG, an independent polling company, showed Labour making gains while the Conservative Party lost ground. BMG conducted the poll from Nov. 27 to Friday for The Independent and surveyed more than 1,600 people.
“With less than two weeks until polling day, our latest vote intention numbers show Labour starting to close the gap,” Robert Struthers, head of polling at BMG, said in a press release.
The latest numbers show 39 percent of respondents would vote Conservative and 33 percent would favour Labour. Mr. Struthers said the slim lead indicates it is more likely the UK could once again have a hung parliament. However, he added, the outcome will depend on whether or not the Labour Party can sway voters from smaller parties.
Voters can hear from the candidates a few more times before the election. BBC plans to host a prime ministerial debate tomorrow with Messrs. Johnson and Corbyn once again going head-to-head.
Young voters will also have the opportunity to question senior figures from the main political parties Monday on Emma Barnett’s Question Time.
Voting centres open at 7 a.m. GMT and close at 10 p.m. Dec. 12 in the UK.
Ms. Kampa reported this story from Wisconsin in the United States.