Theresa May's snap election gamble looking like a bad bet

  • 02/06/2017
Theresa May
Theresa May Photo credit: Getty

British Prime Minister Theresa May's gamble on a snap election is under a cloud after an opinion poll showed her Conservative Party's lead had fallen to a fresh low of 3 percent just a week before voting begins.

A failure to win the June 8 election with a large majority would weaken Ms May just as formal Brexit talks are due to begin, while the loss of her majority in parliament would pitch British politics into turmoil.

In the strongest signal yet that the election is much closer than previously thought, Ms May's lead has collapsed from 24 points since she surprised both rivals and financial markets on April 18 by calling the election, YouGov data showed.

The opposition Labour Party polled 39 percent against the Conservatives' 42 percent. A YouGov model based on different data estimated Ms May's Conservatives would win 317 seats, nine short of an overall majority of 326 seats.

After a hectic campaign which was suspended by a suicide bombing last week, pollsters have offered a vast range for the result of the election: From Ms May losing her majority to a landslide victory for her Conservatives of more than 100 seats.

Betting that she would win a strong majority, Ms May called the snap election to strengthen her position at home as she embarked on complicated Brexit negotiations with 27 other members of the European Union.

But if she fails to beat the 12-seat majority her predecessor David Cameron won in 2015, her electoral gamble will have failed and her authority will be seriously undermined.

If Ms May failed to win an overall majority, she would be forced to strike a deal with another party to continue governing either as a coalition or a minority government.