Britons stream to polls to vote in shadow of terror

2017-06-08 20:05
Prime Minister Theresa May and Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson during campaigning. (Ben Stansall, AFP)

Prime Minister Theresa May and Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson during campaigning. (Ben Stansall, AFP)

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London - Britons streamed to the polls for the third time in two years on Thursday after a campaign dominated by terror attacks and the uncertainty of Brexit.

Prime Minister Theresa May called the snap vote in April, when opinion poll ratings for her and her centre-right Conservative party were sky-high, presenting herself as the strong leader to steer the country through tough negotiations to leave the EU.

Although polls make her favourite to win, Islamist attacks in London and Manchester have put her under pressure, while campaign missteps have dented her reputation as a safe pair of hands.

Final picture

Opposition Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, an anti-war campaigner deemed unelectable by three-quarters of his own lawmakers, has run an energetic campaign, promising change and an end to austerity.

Security was heightened as millions cast their ballots in polling stations ranging from schools and public buildings to churches, pubs and even a windmill and a launderette.

An exit poll at 21:00GMT will give an indication of the outcome, although the final picture will not begin to emerge until early on Friday.

Polling experts - many of whom failed to predict the historic referendum vote to leave the European Union last year - are somewhat wary of calling the outcome.

But predictions of her expected margin of victory vary widely, and one shock model even predicted May could lose her working majority of 17 in the 650-seat House of Commons.

A final projection published on Thursday by pollster Michael Ashcroft predicted a Conservative majority of 76 seats, gaining ground as Labour and the Scottish nationalists slip back.

Negotiating chamber

A final poll by YouGov on Wednesday put the Conservatives seven points ahead of Labour, while ICM gave May's party a 12-point lead over its rivals.

Such predictions stand in stark contrast to a Monday poll by Survation, which gave a narrow one-point gap.

While May has been touring target seats around the country, delivering slogan-heavy speeches in workplaces, Corbyn has drawn large crowds to open-air rallies.

May, 60, has presented herself as uniquely qualified for the Brexit talks starting on June 19 and said her 68-year-old rival would be "alone and naked in the negotiating chamber"

"Get those negotiations wrong and the consequences will be dire," she said on a final campaign stop on Wednesday.

Corbyn, a veteran socialist who has never held ministerial office and defied the odds to win the Labour leadership two years ago, urged supporters in Glasgow to think big on his last day of campaigning.

Read more on:    jeremy corbyn  |  theresa may  |  uk  |  elections

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