With less than a week to go, polls ahead of the United Kingdom’s election are showing a less clear-cut response than first thought.
While earlier forecasts had predicted Prime Minister Theresa May would have an easy victory, some analysts are speculating she may now fall short of a parliamentary majority.
The gap between her Conservative Party and rival Labour continues to narrow.
A year on from the UK’s so-called ‘Brexit’ decision to leave the European Union, the issue of how to handle the delicate process has cast a shadow over campaigning.
Ms May argues she is not only the best choice for Brexit negotiations, but for the country’s future in general.
“They have a choice to decide who they want to lead this country into those Brexit negotiations, get the best deal for Britain from those Brexit negotiations, but also lead us to building that stronger, more prosperous future for our country. It’s a very clear choice. I think it’s me and my team that have that strong and stable leadership, to be able to take this country into those Brexit negotiations, get the best deal, but build that stronger, more secure, fairer, more prosperous future as well.”
Her hardline stance on Brexit, her insistence that “no deal is better than a bad deal”, could complicate trying to form a coalition should her party not achieve an outright majority.
Her policy of budget improvement through continued austerity, and reforms on issues such as funding for social care and education, have also proved unpopular.
Speaking at a recent debate attended by five political parties, deputy leader of the Scottish National Party, Angus Robertson, called on the Conservatives to change so-called “unfair” policies.
“Some of those people on the lowest incomes have been massively hit by welfare cuts, and I think the time has come to end punishing disabled people, end a bedroom tax, and leaving people with the lowest incomes with too little to pay for the essentials. That can change, it’s about political changes.”
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, who voiced strong opposition to exiting the bloc, says he’s now working to get the best possible deal out of the situation.
“It’s rather better than the current government’s process of megaphone diplomacy and threatening. And so we are ready to get on with those negotiations straight away. And we want to get on with it quickly because we want a number of these issues to be settled as quickly as possible, particularly that of EU nationals and tariff-free access to the European market to protect jobs in this country.”
The ‘Leave’ vote succeeded 52 per cent to 48 in June of 2016, angering Scotland and Northern Ireland where a majority voted to remain.
Mr Corbyn’s push to align Labour more closely with its socialist roots and leftist ideals has alienated some party members.
Voters in the Labour stronghold of Hartlepool in northeast England agree Brexit will play a major role in voting choices.
Heather Chapman says she worries “that he doesn’t have the backing of his own party, but the people seem to back him, which I like. I like his old style Labour values as opposed to Labour pretending to be Tories.”
Paul Atkinson, meanwhile, says “I think Theresa May, even though I’m not a Tory voter, I think she’s very very strong at the minute. And even though I’ve been Labour all my life and my family have, I think I will be voting for her because I think she’s going to be the strongest thing for the country right now.”
Peter Robinson points out “There was a massive vote for Brexit in the town, almost 70 per cent, so how many of those people will feel a little bit betrayed by Labour and their inability to push for Brexit, I don’t know. But I suspect there will be quite a few people who would vote Labour, won’t because of Brexit.”
The vote will take place on June 8.