Friday 24 January 2020

UK election 2019: Poll predicts victory for Boris as voting comes to a close

  • Election billed as the most important General Election in a generation
  • Exit poll expected shortly after 10pm tonight
  • Prime Minister Boris Johnson focused on his pledge to "get Brexit done"
  • Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, his rival in the race to Number 10, has instead tried to highlight his party's credentials on health service and other domestic issues
Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson holds his dog Dilyn as he leaves a polling station, at the Methodist Central Hall, after voting in the general election in London, Britain, December 12, 2019. REUTERS/Dylan Martinez
Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson holds his dog Dilyn as he leaves a polling station, at the Methodist Central Hall, after voting in the general election in London, Britain, December 12, 2019. REUTERS/Dylan Martinez
A man walks past a sign outside a polling station on general election day in London, Britain, December 12, 2019. REUTERS/Lisi Niesner

Harriet Line and Patrick Daly

Voting is continuing in the final hours of the UK General Election.

Across Northern Ireland voters are braving a cold and wet day to travel to more than 1,000 polling stations to cast their ballots to decide 18 constituency races.

Early reports suggest polling stations have been busy across the day and particularly in the final hours before the polls close at 10pm.

At the last General Election in 2017, Northern Ireland saw a 65pc turnout.

Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson holds his dog Dilyn as he leaves a polling station, at the Methodist Central Hall, after voting in the general election in London, Britain, December 12, 2019. REUTERS/Dylan Martinez
Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson holds his dog Dilyn as he leaves a polling station, at the Methodist Central Hall, after voting in the general election in London, Britain, December 12, 2019. REUTERS/Dylan Martinez

Northern Ireland's political leaders cast their votes earlier in the day.

Democratic Unionist leader Arlene Foster voted in Brookeborough, Co Fermanagh, a constituency where she is supporting a rival unionist as part of pro-Union link-up to try to unseat Sinn Fein.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson holds his dog, Dilyn, after casting his vote in the 2019 General Election at Methodist Central Hall, London. Jonathan Brady/PA Wire
Prime Minister Boris Johnson holds his dog, Dilyn, after casting his vote in the 2019 General Election at Methodist Central Hall, London. Jonathan Brady/PA Wire

Sinn Fein's Stormont leader Michelle O'Neill cast her ballot 40 miles away in her home village of Clonoe in Co Tyrone.

She called in to have a chat with party workers who have based themselves in a caravan outside the polling station all day.

Britain's opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn and his wife Laura Alvarez look on as a person in a costume of Sesame Street character Elmo waves, as they arrive at a polling station to vote in the general election in London, Britain, December 12, 2019. REUTERS/Hannah McKay
Britain's opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn and his wife Laura Alvarez look on as a person in a costume of Sesame Street character Elmo waves, as they arrive at a polling station to vote in the general election in London, Britain, December 12, 2019. REUTERS/Hannah McKay

In several seats, the republican party has joined forces with fellow pro-Remain parties the SDLP and Greens to maximise the chances of defeating DUP Brexiteers.

SDLP leader Colum Eastwood was accompanied by wife Rachael and their children Maya and Rosa as he voted in Derry.

Early polls

A poll carried out only days before votes are counted suggests the Conservatives will win the General Election - but a quarter of the electorate have said they could still change their minds.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn from the debate with Prime Minister Boris Johnson in the BBC Election Debate in Maidstone, while on the election campaign trail. BBC/PA Wire
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn from the debate with Prime Minister Boris Johnson in the BBC Election Debate in Maidstone, while on the election campaign trail. BBC/PA Wire

The final poll by Ipsos MORI for the London Evening Standard newspaper puts Boris Johnson's Tories 11 points ahead of Labour.

It has the Tories on 44pc and Labour on 33pc, while the Liberal Democrats, according to the poll results, are on course to secure 12pc of the vote.

If the prediction bears out, it would represent the largest share of the vote for the Tories at a General Election since Margaret Thatcher's first victory in 1979.

According to the newly released data, the Green Party would secure 3pc of all votes, Nigel Farage's Brexit Party 2pc and other parties would mop up the remaining 6pc of the vote share.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn (left) going head to head in the BBC Election Debate in Maidstone, while on the election campaign trail. Jeff Overs/BBC/PA Wire
Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn (left) going head to head in the BBC Election Debate in Maidstone, while on the election campaign trail. Jeff Overs/BBC/PA Wire

But the company - which was still interviewing people on the day before polls opened - warned any popping of Tory Champagne corks would be premature, with one in four voters declaring they could alter their voting intentions on polling day.

The number of wavering voters is higher than two years ago when the 2017 General Election produced a hung Parliament result, Ipsos MORI said.

Gideon Skinner, head of political research for the company, said there was still the "potential for more switching".

Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson holds his dog Dilyn as he leaves a polling station, at the Methodist Central Hall, after voting in the general election in London, Britain, December 12, 2019. REUTERS/Dylan Martinez
Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson holds his dog Dilyn as he leaves a polling station, at the Methodist Central Hall, after voting in the general election in London, Britain, December 12, 2019. REUTERS/Dylan Martinez
Prime Minister Boris Johnson holds his dog, Dilyn, after casting his vote in the 2019 General Election at Methodist Central Hall, London. Jonathan Brady/PA Wire
Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson holds his dog Dilyn as he leaves a polling station, at the Methodist Central Hall, after voting in the general election in London, Britain, December 12, 2019. REUTERS/Dylan Martinez
Britain's opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn and his wife Laura Alvarez look on as a person in a costume of Sesame Street character Elmo waves, as they arrive at a polling station to vote in the general election in London, Britain, December 12, 2019. REUTERS/Hannah McKay
A person dressed as a Sesame Street character Elmo sits on a bench outside a polling station during the general election in London, Britain, December 12, 2019. REUTERS/Hannah McKay
A worker prepares a sign inside a polling station on general election day in London, Britain, December 12, 2019. REUTERS/Lisi Niesner
Clocks in London's Canary Wharf financial centre strike 07:00 GMT, marking the time the polls open for Britain's general election, London, Britain December 12, 2019. REUTERS/Russell Boyce
A polling station is set-up for voters in Heysham Hall in Lydd, Kent, as voters go to the polls in today's general election. Gareth Fuller/PA Wire
A view of a polling station sign at Methodist Central Hall in London, as voters go to the polls in today's general election. Jonathan Brady/PA Wire
A polling station is set-up for voters in Heysham Hall in Lydd, Kent, as voters go to the polls in the General Eelction. Gareth Fuller/PA Wire
A polling station is set-up for voters in Heysham Hall in Lydd, Kent, as voters go to the polls in the General Eelction Gareth Fuller/PA Wire
A voter leaves Woodlesford Methodist Chapel polling station in Yorkshire, as polls open in what has been billed as the most important General Election in a generation. Danny Lawson/PA Wire
Voters arrive early to vote in the 2019 General Election at Methodist Central Hall, London. PA Photo. Picture date: Thursday December 12, 2019. Jonathan Brady/PA Wire
Reggie the cocker pop puppy waits in the dark outside a polling station in Chester-le-Street, County Durham. PA Photo. Picture date: Thursday December 12, 2019 Tom Wilkinson/PA Wire
A voter leaves Woodlesford Methodist Chapel polling station in Yorkshire, as polls open in what has been billed as the most important General Election in a generation. Danny Lawson/PA Wire
A voter arrives to cast his vote in the 2019 General Election at Methodist Central Hall, London. Rick Findler/PA Wire
A polling station is set-up for voters in Heysham Hall in Lydd, Kent, as voters go to the polls in the General Election. Gareth Fuller/PA Wire
A polling station is set-up for voters in Heysham Hall in Lydd, Kent, as voters go to the polls in the General Election. PA Photo. Picture date: Thursday December 12, 2019. See PA story POLITICS Election. Photo credit should read: Gareth Fuller/PA Wire
A man arrives at a polling station, at the Methodist Central Hall, to vote in the general election in London, Britain, December 12, 2019. REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya
Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn (left) going head to head in the BBC Election Debate in Maidstone, while on the election campaign trail. Jeff Overs/BBC/PA Wire
Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn (left) going head to head in the BBC Election Debate in Maidstone, while on the election campaign trail. Jeff Overs/BBC/PA Wire

"Labour has squeezed the Liberal Democrat vote share over the course of the campaign but our final poll suggests this has not been enough to prevent the Conservatives scenting victory," he said.

"Overall, the Conservatives have managed to keep their vote from 2017 more successfully than Labour, while Boris Johnson retains his lead over Jeremy Corbyn as the most preferred Prime Minister."

He added: "The country is not unanimous, though, with clear splits by age as well as by other groups, and the number of people who said they might still change their mind is slightly higher than in 2017, with potential for more switching between Labour and the Liberal Democrats.

"And despite a record number saying the election outcome is very important to them, there are signs that the public is not wholly enthusiastic about the choices they face from either party."

More than 2,200 people aged 18 or over were surveyed across Britain for the poll, with all interviews conducted by phone from December 8-11.

The research indicates Mr Johnson's party will retain 85pc of their voters from 2017 and Mr Corbyn's Labour will keep 79pc of its support from two years ago.

Labour, just as in 2017, continues to hold a 26-point lead over the Conservatives among people aged between 18 and 35, while the Tories hold a 37-point lead over Labour among those aged 65 and over.

Mr Johnson's party leads by 15 points among men and six points with women.

The Prime Minster leads rival Mr Corbyn in the final days of the campaign when it comes to who the public think would be the most capable at the country's helm.

Close to half those surveyed (43pc) think Mr Johnson would be the most capable, although that was down by two points on last week.

Just under a third (29pc) said Mr Corbyn, while one in five said neither.

Historic

Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who gambled his premiership by triggering the vote, has sought to focus on his pledge to "get Brexit done" throughout the campaign.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, his rival in the race to Number 10, has instead tried to highlight his party's credentials on the health service and other domestic issues.

This morning, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn tweeted: "I have been informed that personal images from my past have been sent to some media outlets and are set to be released today."

He added "here's the truth" before posting a link to a tool on the Labour website to help voters find their nearest polling station.

The tweet is understood to be a play on similar online memes that were popular on social media during the push to encourage people to register to vote.

Meanwhile, the Prime Minister attended Methodist Central Hall in Westminster with his dog, Dilyn, to cast his vote in what has been billed as the most important General Election in a generation.

Mr Johnson arrived at the polling station on Storey's Gate, a street overlooked by Westminster Abbey, at around 8.15am.

The Prime Minister left around three minutes later, after posing for a picture with his pet.

Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn was greeted by a small number of supporters as he arrived to cast his vote in north London.

A protester dressed as Elmo, a character from children's TV programme Sesame Street, was restrained by security guards as she tried to approach Mr Corbyn as he entered the polling station.

As the woman in fancy dress argued with security and police, Mr Corbyn said: "Hello guys, can we stop the arguments please."

He later posed for photographs with well-wishers outside the polling station.

Mr Corbyn arrived to cast his vote at Pakeman Primary School in Islington with his wife Laura Alvarez at around 9.25am.

Members of the public in a number of London constituencies have had to queue around street corners to vote in some of the busiest conditions they have seen.

"I've voted at the same station and time for eight years, but have never had to queue before," said Craig Fordham, 45, from Putney, who had to wait for 15 minutes.

Chris Schofield queued for 20 minutes in the Bermondsey and Old Southwark constituency.

"It's about 20 times busier than it was in 2017, and for the locals and Euro elections," the 27-year-old consultant told PA.

"Atmosphere is very London: orderly queueing and no-one is talking to each other!"

Mr Schofield said there were over 70 voters waiting outside, adding that there were at least three officers working at the station but only one taking addresses from voters.

Asked why he thought there were so many queuing, he said: "I think it's the election of a lifetime for many of us."

Alixe Bovey said she was queueing for 35 minutes in the Streatham constituency.

Sharing a photo of the queue outside her local station, she tweeted: "In 20 years of voting in Streatham Hill, always at about this time of day, I have never encountered a queue of more than six or seven people.

"What is going on. The tailback is right up the road now."

Ms Bovey told PA: "No idea what it means in my constituency - I'm in a super safe Labour seat."

Voters in Bermondsey, south east London, faced difficulty getting to one polling station after an apparent burst water water main caused flooding in the road around it.

Hannah Tookey, who waded through the water to cast her vote, tweeted: "It was too deep to wade through the middle, even in wellies."

Polls

The polls have narrowed in the final week of what has largely been a tame campaign - with few gaffes and many stage-managed visits.

On Monday Mr Johnson came under fire for his alleged lack of empathy when he pocketed a journalist's phone when asked to view a photograph of a four-year-old boy who was forced to sleep on a hospital floor.

The following day, however, Labour's campaign was rocked when a member of the shadow cabinet was revealed to have poured scorn on Mr Corbyn's election chances in a leaked recording.

A terror attack on London Bridge - which echoed a similar incident in the middle of the 2017 election - briefly disrupted the campaign, but quickly turned political as the Tories and Labour exchanged blows over how to deal with such threats.

The third General Election in less than five years has been largely dominated by the 2016 vote to leave the European Union - with Labour pledging to give voters another say in a second referendum, while the Tories have vowed to take the UK out of the EU next month.

A poll by The Daily Telegraph and Savanta ComRes, published on Wednesday night, placed the Tories five points ahead of Mr Corbyn's party - indicating the potential for a Conservative majority or a hung parliament.

But a separate poll by Kantar put the Tories on 44pc, Labour on 32pc and the Liberal Democrats on 13pc.

Voter turnout, however, could play a major role in the election outcome with rain, wind and chilly temperatures forecast for much of the country throughout Thursday.

In a final plea to voters on the eve of polling day, Mr Johnson warned that the election remained on a "knife edge", but said it represented a chance to "end the gridlock".

"Today is our chance to unite as a country and put the uncertainty to bed so people can get on with their lives," he told supporters in east London.

"Just imagine how wonderful it will be to settle down to a turkey dinner this Christmas with Brexit decided - and how awful it would be if Corbyn and Sturgeon were in Downing Street advancing their plans for two more referendums.

"Let's stop the chaos and stop the referendums. We can secure a majority Conservative government if we win just nine more seats."

Mr Corbyn, meanwhile, stressed the "very profound" issues at stake in Thursday's vote.

"We're literally at a fork in the road," he told the party faithful at a rally in north east London.

"So when the election comes tomorrow it is a very clear choice. You go down the road of Boris Johnson, a sweetheart deal with Donald Trump, we break off any serious relationship with Europe.

"Or you go down the Labour way, which is the adult, responsible way, of negotiating a settlement which we will all live by, and I will make sure is carried out in a future relationship with Europe.

"But we also go down the road of investing in our country, investing to end austerity and redistributing wealth and power in our society in a way that's never been seen before."

Liberal Democrats leader Jo Swinson said the polls showed it was still "absolutely possible" to deny the Tories an overall majority through tactical voting.

"We know from past elections that, very often, voters who vote tactically come to that conclusion in the final hours before they cast their vote," she said.

Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage, speaking in Doncaster, said he was hoping for "very, very heavy rain" in the town on Thursday, in the belief that it would depress the votes of the other parties.

"I know that people who are going to vote for us will turn out, because they absolutely believe in our message, they believe in their hearts as well as in their heads," he said.

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