According to the latest UK public opinion poll, the Conservatives’ previous 9-point lead ahead of Labour has waned to just 5 points — opening up the distinct possibility of a hung parliament. Here’s what that might mean.
The ballots are officially open, and the UK has until 10 pm tonight to decide who will run the country for the next five years. The tension built up over the last few months is palpable, and the latest opinion poll aims to prove it.
An opinion poll by market research firm Savanta ComRes suggests that Labour has closed the gap with the Conservatives by as much as 3%.
Voting intention in favor of Conservatives and Liberal Democrats has remained wholly intact. The poll appears to show Labour borrowing from other parties as tactical strategies to oust the Tories prevail.
Far from the generally accepted probability of a scanty Conservative majority, the pollsters suggested that the election is “too close to call.”
With almost one in five who say they could possibly still change their mind and we could just as plausibly see a healthy Conservative majority as a hung parliament.
The phrase “healthy Conservative majority” should be taken with a pinch of salt. In reality, a working majority doesn’t look like a 5-point lead. Previously, a YouGov MRP poll anticipated the Tories winning 339 seats, with Labour in distant second at 231. While this would undoubtedly place Conservatives in pole position, arguably a 28-seat majority wouldn’t be enough to push through Boris Johnson’s thoroughly divisive Brexit plan.
Nevertheless, opinion polls aren’t entirely representative of the country as a whole. They’re often based on probabilistic outcomes, factored on the sentiment of a few, and barely account for voter volatility or tactical strategies.
The election could plausibly go any which way. Here are just a few:
A hung Parliament — with no party commanding an overall majority — will result in the largest party attempting to form a government; however, this won’t be entirely viable without a coalition or an agreement.
If this decision comes down to the Tories, they’ll have very few available allies. Their typical go-to chums, the DUP, have no faith in Johnson’s Brexit deal — as it imposes a customs border in the Irish Sea. Unless either side yields, another pact is unlikely.
Without another confidence and supply pact, a vote of no confidence could easily knock the Tories out of power. In this instance, the government would have to either resign — and therefore hand the reigns over to the opposition — or call another general election.
On the flip side, if the Tories fail to gather a majority, the ball will inevitably land in Labour’s court.
Unlike the Conservatives, Labour holds more available options in terms of a coalition government. Jeremy Corbyn will likely seek support from the LibDems and the SNP. SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon has advised that no such pact will be made without a second Scottish referendum in 2020.
With the election on a knife-edge, this is truly anyone’s game. For now, all there is left to do is vote.
Last modified: January 22, 2020 11:41 PM UTC