Sunday 24 September 2017

May's lead over Labour matches Thatcher's

Britain’s Prime Minister Theresa May welcomes Head of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker to Downing Street. Photo: Carl Court/Getty Images
Britain’s Prime Minister Theresa May welcomes Head of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker to Downing Street. Photo: Carl Court/Getty Images

Guy Faulconbridge

British Prime Minister Theresa May's Conservatives have almost twice as much voter support as the Labour Party ahead of the June 8 election, a lead equal to that commanded by Margaret Thatcher before her 1983 landslide victory, Ipsos MORI said.

Since Mrs May surprised rivals and financial markets by calling a snap election, opinion polls have shown she has far greater support than Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and that she is likely to win a big majority in the 650-seat lower house.

An Ipsos MORI telephone poll of 1,004 adults conducted on April 21-25 put the Conservative lead at 23 percentage points, while a Panelbase online poll of 1,026 people on April 20-24 put their lead on 22 percentage points.

"The Conservatives are starting the campaign matching the biggest lead we have ever recorded for them during an election campaign - which was back in 1983 ahead of Thatcher's victory," Gideon Skinner, head of political research at Ipsos MORI, said.

Mrs Thatcher, riding a wave of popularity after the Falklands War, won a 144-seat majority in that election against Labour's Michael Foot, whose left-wing socialist manifesto was branded by a party colleague as "the longest suicide note in history".

Mrs May's predecessor, David Cameron, won a majority of 12 seats in a 2015 election, the first overall Conservative victory since Mrs Thatcher's successor, John Major, won in 1992.

Last night, Mrs May hosted European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and chief EU negotiator Michel Barnier at a dinner at Downing Street, which her aides said was an attempt to improve the atmosphere before Brexit talks start in early June.

"President Juncker had a constructive meeting with Prime Minister May," a spokesperson said, adding that as well as Brexit, the two addressed "issues of strategic interest" to both sides.

"She reiterated the UK's commitment to achieving a deep and special partnership with the European Union."

Irish Independent

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