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by Alain Tolhurst
11 December 2019
Boris Johnson on course for small majority as new poll shows election race tightening

Ballot box - Image credit: PA

Boris Johnson on course for small majority as new poll shows election race tightening

Labour has closed the gap on the Conservatives, but Boris Johnson in still on course for a small majority, according to a major new poll.

The YouGov survey of more than 100,000 people for the The Times predicts the Tories will win 339 seats on Thursday – 20 fewer than forecast a fortnight ago.

Labour would win 231 – up 20 on the last poll – with the Lib Dems picking up 15 seats and the SNP 41. That would be enough to give the Conservatives a majority of 28 seats.

That would be the Tories' best election performance since 1987 and Labour's worst since the same year.

Most Conservative gains are expected to be from Labour, but in Scotland the poll predicts they will take Lanark and Hamilton East from the SNP.

The SNP, meanwhile, is predicted to take Angus, East Renfrewshire, Gordon, Ochil and South Perthshire, and Stirling from the Tories and Glasgow North East and Midlothian from Labour.

Labour is not predicted to make any gains in Scotland, but the poll suggests it may lose fewer seats than has been thought from previous opinion polls.

However, YouGov said that the margin of error meant that the Tories could win as little as 311 seats, meaning a hung parliament cannot be ruled out.

That would be fewer seats than Theresa May won in 2017 and would raise serious questions about whether Boris Johnson could remain as Tory leader.

The so-called 'multi-level regression and post-stratification', or MRP, poll predicts that the Tories will receive 43 per cent of the vote, Labour 34 per cent, the Lib Dems 12 per cent and the Brexit Party three per cent.

YouGov's previous MRP poll had Labour losing 44 seats to the Conservatives, but this has now dropped to 29.

The MRP survey mapped the voting preferences of 105,612 people based on age, gender, education, previous votes and other factors, a much larger sample than usual polls, to come up with estimates for each constituency.

Chris Curtis, YouGov’s political research manager, said: “Our latest and final poll shows that a small Conservative majority is likely, with the Tories taking 22 more seats than in 2017 and Labour losing 31.

“This would be the best and worst results respectively for each party since the 80s. 

“But the margins are extremely tight and small swings in a small number of seats, perhaps from tactical voting and a continuation of Labour’s recent upward trend, means we can’t currently rule out a hung parliament.

“As things currently stand there are 85 seats with a margin of error of five per cent or less.”

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