Denis Staunton’s UK election diary: Poll predicts sweeping Tory win

Corbyn could yet deprive Johnson of majority as Labour changes strategy

It’s two weeks to Election Day.

The BBC is reporting this morning that Labour is changing its strategy to focus more on defending seats that voted Leave in 2016. Apart from sending more activists into constituencies in the Midlands and the north of England, the party will try to persuade voters that its policy of putting Brexit to a second referendum is not an attempt to thwart the outcome of the 2016 vote.

Jeremy Corbyn is determined to contrast the deal he will negotiate with the EU, which would see Britain remain in the customs union and align with the single market, with Boris Johnson's much harder Brexit. He took a step in that direction yesterday, publishing leaked documents based on six rounds of talks between British and US trade officials.

The meetings all took place before Johnson became prime minister and they don't reveal a smoking gun showing that the Conservatives are planning to sell off the National Health Service (NHS) as Labour claims. But they shed light on US priorities in a trade deal, which Washington would expect to include everything from drug pricing to food standards.


The documents report that US officials said they wanted the starting point for negotiations to be full market access with all sectors on the table. The US side raised the issue of drug pricing and the length of patents and offered to share with Britain their talking points on the safety of chlorine-washed chicken.

You can read my report here and my analysis here.

Labour has good reason to worry about its Leave-voting seats according to YouGov's MRP election survey, which shows Johnson on course to win a 68-seat majority, mostly at Labour's expense. YouGov interviewed more than 100,000 voters over a week for the survey, using a model that successfully predicted the outcome of the 2017 election.

Its results would give the Conservatives 359 seats, Labour 211, the SNP 43 and the Liberal Democrats 13 (the survey does not include Northern Ireland). Most of the Conservative gains would come from demolishing Labour’s “red wall” of Leave-voting seats in its old industrial heartlands of the Midlands and the North of England.

The Conservatives would hold all but two of their 13 seats in Scotland and fight off the Liberal Democrats in the south of England while Labour would make no gains at all to offset its loss of dozens of seats.

But the poll shows the Conservatives to be vulnerable to a modest swing towards Labour and their margin of victory in 30 of the seats would be less than 5 per cent. Labour has been advancing in the polls in recent days and Corbyn could yet deprive Johnson of his majority, particularly if the YouGov poll encourages tactical voting aimed at keeping the Conservatives out of power.

Recommended reads

Jennifer O'Connell meets young voters in a West Midlands marginal.

Gerry Moriarty on the contest between the DUP and Alliance in East Belfast.

Finn McRedmond sees no good choices for British voters.

Owen Jones in the Guardian says Labour must win over Leave voters.

Quote of the day

"On the question, 'Can you spell out why Boris Johnson is unfit for office?' I'm quite happy to do that. I'm just conscious though we don't have the let on this venue for the entirety of the day" – Nicola Sturgeon

What’s on today

9.30am Jo Swinson visits a homelessness centre

11am Jeremy Corbyn sets out Labour’s environmental policies

11am Nigel Farage campaigns in Hull

7pm Channel 4 leaders’ debate on the climate emergency

Poll tracker

Conservatives 42.4; Labour 29.6; Liberal Democrats 14.6; Brexit 4.4; Greens 3.4; Others 5.7

From Britain Elects