British Prime Minister Theresa May’s lead over the opposition Labour Party has narrowed ahead of a June 8 election but she is still on course to win comfortably, according to two opinion polls carried out since the Manchester suicide attack.
The Opinium and ComRes polls published on Saturday showed the lead of May’s ruling Conservative Party had slipped to 10 and 12 percentage points respectively.
But the polls painted a complicated picture of public opinion, with Britons’ current voting intentions being influenced by both the deadly Manchester attack on Monday and May’s unpopular social care proposals.
Sterling on Friday suffered its steepest fall since January after a YouGov opinion poll indicated a much tighter election than previously thought with the lead of May’s Conservatives over Labour down to 5 percentage points.
May called the snap election in a bid to strengthen her hand in negotiations on Britain’s exit from the European Union, to win more time to deal with the impact of the divorce and to strengthen her grip on the Conservative Party.
But if she does not handsomely beat the 12-seat majority her predecessor David Cameron won in 2015, her electoral gamble will have failed and her authority could be undermined just as she enters formal Brexit negotiations.
Opinium said May’s lead had slipped to 10 percentage points, down from 13 points the week before and from 19 percentage points on April 19, the day after May announced the snap election. The poll showed the Conservatives winning 45 percent against Labour’s 35 percent.
ComRes said the lead of May’s Conservatives had fallen to 12 percentage points in an online poll carried out May 24-26, from 18 percentage points in a comparable poll on May 13. The poll put the Conservatives on 46 percent and Labour on 34 percent.
Opinium said May’s approval ratings had dropped to plus 11 percent from plus 17 percent, while Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn’s approval ratings had risen to minus 11 from minus 18.
The Independent newspaper, which commissioned the ComRes poll along with the Sunday Mirror tabloid, said that the poll indicated that May would win a majority of 110 seats in the 650-seat parliament, one of the biggest majorities in recent times.
The YouGov poll published on Thursday, the first major poll carried out since a suicide bomber killed 22 people in Manchester on Monday night, showed that May’s lead had dropped to 5 percentage points from 9 points on Saturday and 18 points two weeks ago.
Opinion polls had shown May’s rating slipping over the past month but they fell sharply after she set out plans on May 18 to make some elderly people pay a greater share of their care costs, a proposal dubbed the ‘dementia tax’ by opponents.
As polls showed a sharp decline, May was forced to backtrack on the policy at an appearance before the media on Monday at which she appeared flustered and irritated when taking questions from reporters.
Political campaigning was suspended for several days after the Manchester attack but resumed on Friday.