UK PM's lead widens on eve of vote2:34
An opinion poll says British PM Theresa May's Conservative Party is on course to win the national election.
Britain's Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn would pull off the impossible if he was to achieve a win over the Conservatives in today’s UK election. Picture: AP Photo/Frank Augstein.
AUSTRALIANS living and working in the UK could bear the brunt of a crackdown on immigration under a Conservative government, which polls show is on track for victory.
The final Ipsos MORI figures showed Prime Minister Theresa May’s government set to gain a majority of 44 per cent over 36 per cent for Labour.
It would translate into a gain of around 40 seats for the Conservatives meaning the gamble Mrs May made in April when she decided to call the election three years early paid off.
However it’s just one of several recent polls that show a range of results from a 15 per cent win to a hung parliament.
The results for first exit polls will be published just before 7am AEDT, with the critical seats called between 9am and 1pm Friday, AEDT.
A Conservative win will be good news for financial markets which traded flat on Thursday, braced for a “triple threat” of the UK vote, ECB meeting and explosive testimony from former FBI Director James Comey.
OANDA Senior Market Analyst Craig Erlam warned “things could get messy” for currency markets if the results do not show the clear Conservative majority traders expect.
“The problem now is that with sterling trading at near nine-month highs against the dollar, having gradually rallied since the start of the month, it is vulnerable to a sharp decline if things don’t go as planned. Should we see a hung parliament then things could get messy,” he wrote in a research note.
It could also complicate life for Australians living and working in the UK who are set to become subject to tougher immigration laws. The Conservatives have pledged to “bear down” on the number of people entering the country, bringing it down to the tens of thousands annually from more than 200,000 at present.
It’s the third major vote in three years for British voters and comes less than one year after the Brexit referendum that saw the UK choose to leave the European Union by 52 per cent to 48 per cent.
That result saw Conservative PM David Cameron resign and be replaced by Mrs May. She called a snap election in April this year when she had more than 20 points over Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn in a bid to strengthen her hand in Brexit negotiations with 27 EU member states.
However missteps during the campaign and a focus on domestic policy have seen Mr Corbyn narrow the gap.
The 68-year-old anti-war activist has campaigned on a far-left platform of higher taxes and increased government spending with nationalising rail and water services. While some in the Labour Party have quit cabinet positions over his leadership, he has inspired hundreds of thousands of others with his authentic approach.
Scottish voter James Forrester told news.com.au for him, Brexit and Scottish Independence are at the top of the agenda and he’s looking at “which leader presents the strongest deal from the Brexit negotiations.”
The London-based student, who has taken part in two elections and two referendums by the age of 21 said he wants to see Britain gain “tariff-free access to EU single market” through Brexit. He also wants Scotland to remain part of Britain and avoid the second independence referendum Scottish National Party leader Nicola Sturgeon has suggested.
For London marketing worker, Muyiwa Adigun, who voted to remain part of the EU, he said he’s accepted Brexit will take place and affordable housing will be top of his agenda during the vote.
“I’m thinking about moving out the house so any political party that’s looking to get me out of the house as cheap as possible, I’m all for them,” he said.
Soaring voter registration ahead election could be a decisive factor in the result with an extra one million people able to take part.
UK voter figures show registrations surged between May and June 2017 with the largest day on May 22 when 622,000 people signed up to vote.
Of those, the largest group was those under 25 who made up 246,000 people, followed by the 25-34-year-old age group that saw an extra 207,000 people register.
The next group was 35-44 year olds, of whom an extra 89,000 registered, the UK government reports.
While the single day provided a spike in the figures, statistics show the under 44 age groups have taken up registration in the largest numbers.
It’s thought greater numbers of young voters could benefit Labour leader Jermey Corbyn. However experts warn increased registration does not necessarily translate into results, with individual constituencies important in the UK first-past-the-post system.
The vote comes after a deadly terror attack at London Bridge that killed eight people and injured 48, leading to a last-minute focus on security and policing.
Mrs May has been forced to defend her previous role as Home Secretary that saw cuts to police budgets. The day before votes closed she said she had no regrets about calling the election to take place three years early.
“I’ve enjoyed the campaign,” she said. “There is a very clear choice for people when they come to vote.”
Asked about the result, the 60-year-old who has made much of the fact she’s a vicar’s daughter said: “I never predict election results.”
Mr Corbyn, who has proposed the most socialist Labour Party manifesto in decades said: “Wouldn’t it be great if on Friday we woke up to ... a Labour government that will be a government for all of our communities across the whole of the country.”
The Liberal Democrats, Greens and UK Independence Party have struggled to gain traction in this election.
Earlier in the day, UK media were caught in an embarrassing scrap outside a polling station while waiting for Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron to emerge.
Footage from outside the polling station in Cumbria showed cameramen and photographers shoving each other while jostling for position on the steps.
Journalists watching on commentate the brawl with one shocked reporter saying: “Ooooh they’re having a proper scrap”.
Others took to social media to share pictures of #dogsatpollingstations in what has become an annual tradition. Other quirky sights include a tortoise, bride and votes held in a range of venues from pubs to fire stations and laundromats.
Polls closed at 10pm Thursday UK time with the first results expected around midnight (9am Friday AEST).