U.K. Election Poll: PM May Holds Razor-thin Lead Over Corbyn's Labour Day Before British Vote

Poll, taken after London attack, give May's Conservative Party a one percent point lead over Corbyn's Labour Party

Workers in protective equipment are reflected in the window of a betting shop with a display inviting customers to place bets on tbe result of the general election with images of Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May and opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn, in London, June 7, 2017.
MARKO DJURICA/REUTERS

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The lead of British Prime Minister Theresa May's Conservative Party over the opposition Labour Party has remained at one percentage point, according to a Survation poll published on Wednesday, one day before Britain's national election.

Survation said it put support for the Conservatives at 41.3 percent with Labour close behind on 40.4 percent.

Other polls published on Wednesday gave the Conservatives wider leads, ranging from five to 12 percentage points.

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Pollsters still expect May's Conservatives to win, although talk of a landslide majority of more than 100 seats has faded. A final flurry of polls put her party's lead in a range between 1 and 12 percentage points, with most of them suggesting she would increase her majority.

The polls started narrowing after May launched a new policy on care for the elderly that proved unpopular. She backtracked days later, prompting opposition parties to pour scorn on her claim to offer "strong and stable leadership".

Then came a suicide bombing at a pop concert in Manchester on May 22 that killed 22 children and adults, and a van and knife attack on London Bridge and in nearby Borough Market that killed eight people on June 3, five days before the election.

The attacks threw the campaign spotlight onto security and prompted questions from May's opponents and media about her record overseeing cuts in police numbers during her years as interior minister from 2010 to 2016.
But the security issue was not seen as helpful to her main rival, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, who has voted against counter-terrorism legislation and expressed reservations in the past about police shoot-to-kill tactics.

May vs. Corbyn

On Wednesday, the eve of the vote, May tried to bring the campaign back to Brexit.

"When it comes to the election tomorrow, I think the choices and the questions that people need to ask are exactly the same today as they were right at the beginning of the campaign," she told a campaign rally in Norwich, eastern England.

"And the first is a question of who do you trust to actually have the strong and stable leadership that is going to deliver the best deal for Britain in Europe."

May has sought to portray Corbyn as the weak leader of a spendthrift party which would crash Britain's $2.5 trillion economy and lead the country to ruin in chaotic Brexit negotiations.

Corbyn, a veteran left-winger who unexpectedly won the Labour leadership in 2015 after three decades on the party fringe, has hit back that Conservative fiscal austerity has hurt the poor and increased social inequalities.

Labour propose to build a fairer society through policies such as increasing tax for the richest 5 percent, boosting workers' rights, scrapping university tuition fees and investing 250 billion pounds in infrastructure.

"The choice is quite simple. Five more years of a Tory government, five more years of austerity, five more years of cuts. Or something different," Corbyn told supporters in Colwyn Bay, north Wales, to cheers and applause.

For May, the challenge is not only to win but to surpass handsomely the 12-seat majority her Conservative predecessor David Cameron won in 2015.
A narrow victory would undermine her authority both inside her party and at talks with the 27 other EU leaders.

Up to five more opinion polls are expected before voting begins at 0600 GMT on Thursday.

Britons have until 2100 GMT to vote, and there will be an exit poll as soon as voting ends. The first handful of seat results are expected to be announced by 2300 GMT, with the vast majority of the 650 constituencies due to announce results between 0200 GMT and 0500 GMT on Friday morning.