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Ben Riley-Smith in London
June 4 2017 2:30 AM
The Tories are pulling away from Labour as the election finish line approaches, according to the latest poll that puts the Conservative lead at nine points.
A Labour surge last month appears to have been reversed in the past week, according to some election trackers.
Some 45pc of British voters now back the Tories, according to ORB International - up one point. Labour is on 36pc - down two points. That means the Tories hold a nine-point lead going into the final week of campaigning, up from six points a week earlier.
The Liberal Democrats were polled at 8pc and Ukip at 4pc - way down on the 13pc it secured in 2015. The news will be cheered by Tory election chiefs, who have seen their campaign tactics hammered after weeks of tightening polls.
'Leavers' losing faith in Labour and turning to the Tories appears to partly explain the movement, according to a breakdown of the poll, which was taken last Wednesday and Thursday.
The number of voters who backed Brexit and will support Labour dropped two points, while the Tories saw a two-point rise among that group.
It will be seen as an endorsement for the tactics of Lynton Crosby - the controversial Tory election guru - to focus relentlessly on Brexit last week.
It was hoped after prolonged debate about manifesto policies that voters looking at the 'big picture' of Brexit talks would be convinced to pick Theresa May, not Jeremy Corbyn, as prime minister.
ORB International's managing director, Johnny Heald, said: "As we move ever closer to polling day, Jeremy Corbyn and Labour, despite a very credible challenge, appear to be unable to close the gap sufficiently.
"While he polls well among the younger age group - who are also those who are least reliable when it comes to turnout - male voters appear to have increasing doubts about him as prime minister."
Heald said voters who backed the Tories at the last election had "stayed very loyal and largely been unaffected by the campaign".
Labour too had managed to "shore up" more of its 2015 voters, but "some of these voters flirting with the Tories appears to have been just that - a flirt rather than vote.
"One of the main shifts in the campaign has been among those who voted to leave in 2016. With a refocus in the last week on Brexit, Theresa May remains the leader most people have confidence in to get the right deal for the UK."
Pollsters have repeatedly warned that their surveys are a snapshot and should not be read as a prediction.
Critics noted that polls largely failed to pick up Trump's victory in the US or the Brexit vote last June.
Tightening polls gave credence to the Conservative line that their supporters need to turn out. If the Tories replicate that 45pc on Thursday, May will have won her party a higher proportion of votes than any time in almost half a century. Margaret Thatcher never got such a high vote share in her three general election victories. Edward Heath scored 46.4pc in 1970.
If Labour scores 36pc on Thursday, Mr Corbyn's team is expected to use it to justify his staying on as party leader.
It would be higher than Ed Miliband won in 2015 and even Tony Blair's election victory in 2005, when he got 35.2pc of the vote.