Image credit: The Telegraph.
The United Kingdom goes to the polls – again – tomorrow after Theresa May, the Prime Minister, called a snap General Election in April.
Both parties go into the final day of campaigning today with the race apparently much tighter than many expected a month ago.
Despite ruling out a snap election when she took over after the Brexit referendum in June last year, Mrs May announced the vote in the hope that she can capitalise on internal divisions within the Labour Party and bolster the Conservative’s majority in the House of Commons.
The Conservatives enjoyed a large lead at the beginning of the campaign and a good result for Mrs May on Thursday would give her a strong position as she negotiates a “hard Brexit” from the European Union.
Labour continues to trail in the polls – even though the gap has narrowed significantly – but their leader Jeremy Corbyn is hoping to confound the pollsters in the same way Donald Trump did in November.
The Liberal Democrats, meanwhile, are campaigning on an anti-Brexit platform.
Here’s a rundown on the big issues from the election over the past week, why comparisons have been drawn between Mr Corbyn and the US president, and a guide to what you should look out for on election night.
Has the London terror attack affected the election?
Absolutely. The tragic events on Saturday night has had a significant impact on the race.
All the major parties suspended campaigning for 24 hours on Sunday following the attack that killed at least seven people. It was the second time that national campaigning has been suspended during the current election campaign after it was halted for three days in the wake of the Manchester bomb attack on May 22.
The atrocity even prompted calls on social media for the general election to be suspended, forcing Mrs May to stress on Sunday that it would go ahead as planned on Thursday.
However it is the news agenda that has been most significantly affected. With just days until the election, the prime minister, who was previously the Home Secretary, has been forced on the defensive as she faces criticism of her record on counter-terrorism following the third terrorist outrage in the space of three months.
When Mrs May addressed the nation on Sunday, she rounded on those who “tolerate” extremism as she told them: “Enough is enough.”
On Tuesday, Mrs May vowed to start work on toughening anti-terrorism measures if she is re-elected and promised she would not let human rights laws stand in her way. The Prime Minister will make it easier to deport foreign terror suspects and will extend existing laws that restrict the freedom of British suspects.
She has faced a barrage of questions about why the three Islamist terrorists who killed seven at the weekend were free to do it despite two of them being on the radar of the police or MI5. She has also been taken to task over a 20,000 reduction in police numbers under her watch.
Certain sections of the press, meanwhile, have trained their sights on Mr Corbyn. Amid a slew of recent stories about the Labour leader’s past associations with IRA and Palestinian terrorists, Labour faced fierce headlines on Wednesday, including “Apologists for terror” and “Jezza’s jihadi comrades”.
What has been the reaction to Trump’s tweets?
Mrs May has come under fire for not standing up for London’s Mayor, Sadiq Khan, in the face of strong criticism from Donald Trump in the hours after the terror attack.
The US President fired off a series of critical tweets over Mr Khan’s handling of the London Bridge terror attack, mocking the mayor’s comments that there was “no reason to be alarmed” over armed police on the streets.
But while Mrs May said Mr Trump’s Twitter attacks were “wrong”, she said Mr Trump’s controversial trip would go ahead.
Tom Brake, foreign affairs spokesman for the Liberal Democrats, said: “Theresa May has allowed Donald Trump 24 hours to bully the Mayor of London. It isn’t good enough.
“Trump’s attack on Sadiq Khan was not only wrong, it was outrageous. Just as has been shown in so many other areas, when it comes to Trump, Theresa May is meek and mild, not strong and stable.
“It is time for Theresa May to do the right thing and cancel the state visit.”
A YouGov poll of 1,000 Londoners published on Monday found that Mr Khan was more trusted than both Mrs May and national Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn to make the right decisions about keeping Britain safe from terrorism.
Is Jeremy Corbyn the British Donald Trump?
They stand at opposite ends of the political spectrum in many ways, yet comparisons between the US president Donald Trump and the Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn have been made for months.
As The Telegraph’s Asa Bennett noted in March:
“Both men are just a few years apart in age. They have been part of the system for decades, but that hasn’t stopped them from amassing their own anti-Establishment following. Each man, their supporters say, is a straight talker who speaks truth to power, whose appeal is proven the huge crowds that come to listen.”
Mr Corbyn even seemed to lift some lines from the Trump playbook in February by blasting the BBC for reporting “fake news”.
Mr Trump’s victory looms over the election. When asked by Politicowhat the odds were on Mr Corbyn winning on Thursday, a veteran BBC producer said: “Zero percent”.
“Except, he quickly added that, in this age of Brexit and Trump, he no longer trusts the polls, or his own political instincts honed over three decades of covering British elections, or anything really.”
How are the polls looking?
With just a day until the election, polls are showing that the gap between Labour and the Conservatives has narrowed further still.
However, different polling companies are forecasting wildly different results.
The latest poll from YouGov has the Tory lead at just four points over Labour, while ICM has it standing at 11 points.
The situation is a far cry from the start of the election campaign, when Mrs May enjoyed a 17.8 point lead and polls indicated a landslide victory.
Writing in The Telegraph, Mr Moszynski, chief Executive and Founder of London Advertising, said the Conservatives remain “safely on course for a three-figure majority”.
What’s the schedule for election night?
- 5pm EST: Polls close at 10pm in the UK and exit polls are expected to be announced at the same time.
- 6pm EST: The first result should be called within the first hour of counting.
- 8pm EST: Things start to get serious around 1am BST as the first marginal seats are expected to be called.
- 10pm-12am EST: The busiest time for results to be announced will be between 3am and 5am BST. Conservative leader Theresa May should find out if she has held the Berkshire seat of Maidenhead around 4am – by that time she will have a good idea about whether she is still Prime Minister.
- 1.30am EST: At around 6.30am BST on Friday, the loser will be conceding defeat and the winner will be declaring victory.