Thursday, 12 December 2019

'It's on a knife-edge!' Boris Johnson makes final, impassioned plea to voters as he warns there 'is a very real risk of a hung parliament' and says 'it's up to you now' - while Jeremy Corbyn calls for a 'shock to the establishment'

  • Boris Johnson has made his final plea to voters in a rally with Tory activists at the Olympic Park in east London 
  • The final Opinium survey puts the Conservative Party on 45 per cent and the Labour Party on 33 per cent
  • The Tories are down one per cent when compared to company's previous poll but Labour is up two points
  • Poll suggests that one in ten voters are yet to make up their mind on who to back at the ballot box tomorrow
  • Opinium poll comes after a massive YouGov survey showed Boris Johnson is on course to win 28 seat majority
  • But margin of error on YouGov survey is sufficiently large that a hung parliament is still very real possibility
  • The latest poll numbers came as all the main party leaders embarked on a frantic last day of campaigning 
Boris Johnson made his final plea for voters to help him 'get Brexit done' tonight hours before the ballot boxes open - and with polls showing the result is still on a knife edge. 
The PM said it is 'up to you now' after another frenetic day of campaigning in which he warned the risk of a Jeremy Corbyn government is still 'very real'.
'Now is the time for this amazing country to come together and remember what it is capable of doing,' he told a glitzy rally at the Olympic Park in east London. 
Mr Johnson urged activists to 'fan out' and convince people to 'give a miss' to the hard-Left platform of Mr Corbyn, and instead elect a 'sensible, moderate, dynamic One Nation government'.  
'We have 24 hours to break the deadlock,' he warned Conservative party faithful who broke out into chants of 'Boris! Boris!'.
He told voters: 'This election is our chance to end the gridlock but the result is on a knife-edge. To every one of you who is fed up with the endless arguments and wants to move on, every one of you who wants us to respect the referendum result and deliver the change people voted for, every one of you who wants us to focus on a positive, united future, every one of you who worries about the chaos of a Corbyn-Sturgeon alliance in a hung parliament, my message is simple.
'Give me a majority and I will finish what we started – what you instructed us to do – three and a half years ago. A great future is there within our grasp, but I need your vote.'
In a homely appeal to voters weary of Westminster's long-running Brexit farce, Mr Johnson added: 'Just imagine how wonderful it will be to settle down to a turkey dinner this Christmas with Brexit decided.
'And how awful it would be if Corbyn and Sturgeon were in Downing Street advancing their plans for two more referendums.'
The rallying cry came as a series of polls showed the Tories holding on to their lead over Labour - but the gap is not big enough to guarantee an overall majority when the outcome is finally revealed on Friday morning.   
A survey by Opinium, conducted yesterday and today, put the Conservatives on 45 per cent, down three points over the past week. 
Labour was up two points to 33 per cent, figures which should be enough to guarantee Mr Johnson the functional government he craves.
However, one in ten voters are yet to make up their mind about how they will cast their vote. A Savanta ComRes survey found there was just five points between the main parties, with the gap shrinking by one. 
Separate Panelbase and BMG polls both gave the Tories a steady nine point lead.
But Conservative nerves have been set on edge after a huge YouGov analysis overnight suggested a hung parliament is still a very real possibility. 
In his sabre-rattling speech to whip up party grassroots, Mr Johnson warned against electing 'a Hamas-backing IRA-supporting, anti-Semitism-condoning appeaser of the Kremlin' - Mr Corbyn.
The Labour leader's own rally tonight was a much more low-key event in Hoxton Docks, where he told supporters to spread the message of 'socialism, which is about hope' to the country on Thursday.
All the leaders of the main political parties embarked on last ditch trips across the UK today in a final push for votes. 
Mr Johnson's day got off to an awkward start in West Yorkshire as he was ambushed by a reporter from ITV's Good Morning Britain, prompting one of his aides to swear on live television. 
The PM refused to be interviewed and sought refuge in a fridge at the dairy he was visiting, sparking a wave of ridiculing memes on social media. 
The attempt to hijack the premier's final day of the campaign left the Conservatives furious as sources insisted Mr Johnson had not been 'hiding'. 
A spokesman for the party said: 'The PM stepped inside as cameras were set up for an interview. The only thing being hidden in this election is Jeremy Corbyn's plans for Brexit.'
In his own rally Wednesday night, Mr Corbyn fired a broadside at his Tory rival for 'hiding in the fridge,' saying that Labour is not afraid of being asked questions. 
Mr Johnson later made his way to Derby where he helped to cook a pie at a catering company before then heading to south Wales to visit a wrapping paper factory.
But Mr Corbyn's campaign also appeared to be flagging, after a secret recording emerged yesterday of his own shadow health secretary Jon Ashworth saying he believes the party is doomed and the veteran left-winger will need to be isolated from secret material is he somehow does end up as PM.
Mr Corbyn visited Glasgow and the north of England where he raised eyebrows by insisting Labour will win the election 'no problem at all'.
Pro-Corbyn group Momentum said it was mobilising up to 30,000 supporters to knock on doors up and down the country to get people out to vote.
Voters will face rain and gales in many parts of the country as they go to the polls in the first December election for almost a century. 
And Labour said it had won the social media battle – with millions more people watching campaign videos of Mr Corbyn than those of Mr Johnson.
The YouGov survey, published last night, showed the Tories are on course to win a 28 seat majority. 
However, the margin of error on the poll was sufficiently large that Mr Johnson could end up with anything between 311 seats - short of a majority - and 367. 
Mr Johnson has consistently enjoyed double digit poll leads over Mr Corbyn for the duration of the campaign but things have tightened in recent days.
The new Opinium poll suggests that barring a major shock, Mr Johnson's Tories will end up with the most MPs after the election. 
The survey shows that Labour has made gains in the final few days of campaigning but it appears to be too little too late for Mr Corbyn. 
The rounded figures for the Opinium survey show a 12 point lead for the Tories but Labour's vote share sits at 33.5 per cent while the Conservatives are on 44.8 per cent putting Mr Johnson's exact lead at 11.3 per cent. 
Opinium suggested that the tightening in the polls could be attributed to Remain voters making a last-minute switch from the Liberal Democrats to Labour. 
The Lib Dems are on 12 per cent of the vote, down one per cent on last week's poll. 
The Opinium survey could go could some way to assuaging Tory fears of the election resulting in a hung parliament after the YouGov poll was published last night.
That poll put the Tories on 43 per cent with Labour on 34 per cent. 
YouGov estimated that the Tories were on course to win 339 seats, up 22 on the party's tally from the 2017 general election. 
Meanwhile, Labour was projected to lose 31 seats when compared to the result from two years ago, with the party potentially finishing up with 231 MPs.
But crucially, YouGov's analysis showed the race in dozens of seats is incredibly tight with less than five per cent separating the two main parties. 
That means that just small swings could dramatically alter the final result of the election. 
The YouGov survey also suggested that Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab and Environment Secretary Theresa Villiers, as well as former Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith, could be ousted tomorrow night. 
The latest poll numbers came as Mr Johnson insisted he is not too posh to win over working-class Labour voters - as he launched a savage attack on Mr Corbyn.  
In an eve-of-poll interview with MailOnline, the PM questioned his opponent's patriotism as he accused him of repeatedly 'siding with our enemies' and following the 'line to take' from Vladimir Putin
He said the UK's allies were 'seriously concerned' about the prospect of Mr Corbyn taking power.
Mr Johnson appealed for voters to avoid the 'catastrophe' of a hard-Left government that would wipe out jobs and send businesses to the wall.
And he also delivered a stark message that failure to honour the result of the 2016 referendum would risk social unrest and the rise of more extreme political movements - as disaffected Leave voters abandon mainstream parties. 
Mr Johnson also revealed in the interview that he has not spoken to Donald Trump since the 'gossipgate' row at last week's NATO summit.
Amid Tory fears ties to the US President could be an electoral liability, the PM also played down their warm relationship saying he gets on well with 'all sorts of leaders'. 
Mr Johnson's attempts to win over voters took a festive turn this afternoon as he visited a south Wales firm which is said to be the Queen's Christmas cracker supplier.
He helped box up rolls of wrapping paper before joining staff at IG Design Group in pulling a election of the crackers.
The PM read out the joke in one of them, asking: 'What can you make that cannot be seen? The answer is a noise.'
The noise of laughter was not heard, so the PM added: 'What can you get done by Christmas? Brexit.'
Some laughter then followed with Mr Johnson commending those who got the 'right answer'.  

Ten early results to watch on election night: Knife-edge seats that will announce before 3am and could point towards a big majority for Boris Johnson ... or a Brexit-stalling hung parliament

Boris Johnson will not have to wait long to decide whether he will taste champagne or bitter tears on election night with a host of key seats determined early on.
Ten Leave-supporting Labour marginals are among the constituencies expected to declare their results in the early hours of Friday, after polls close at 10pm.
Many have been Labour for generations and whether they stay in the hands of Jeremy Corbyn or switch allegiance to the Tories could make all the difference to the timing and manner of Brexit.
One of the earliest is the bellweather seat of Workington in Cumbria. Home of Workington Man, the archetypal voter at this election is is due to declare at 1am.
Labour is defending a majority of almost 4,000 and the most recent poll suggests they could hold it, despite a 60 per cent Leave vote. 
So a swing to the Tories here could spell the start of an uncomfortable night for Jeremy Corbyn.
Nine other key seats across the North and Midlands are expected to be among those declared by 3am. All share three things: they are voted Leave in 2016 and have a Labour MP. 
Darlington in County Durham is due to be next up around 1.30am, followed by Wrexham in north Wales  and Stockton South, both of which voted 58 per cent in favour of Leave, at 2am along with Burnley (66 per cent Leave).
The other five are due around 3am: Great Grimsby (71 per cent Leave), Peterborough (63 per cent), Blackpool South (68 per cent), Newcastle-under-Lyme (62 per cent) and Bishop Aukland (60 per cent).
Mr Johnson is on course to win the general election with a majority of 28 that would allow him to complete Brexit, according to the YouGov polling analysis which correctly predicted a hung parliament in 2017.
But that majority is down from 68 seats a fortnight ago and the analysis also shows some of his top ministers, including Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, could lose their seats.
YouGov's final MRP model predicts that the Conservatives will win 339 seats, with Jeremy Corbyn's party on 231 and the Liberal Democrats on 15.
YouGov warned that the margin of error could put the Tory seat total as low as 311, which would mean another hung parliament.
The Conservatives are predicted to gain 22 seats, including in Labour heartlands such as AshfieldBassetlaw and Tony Blair's former seat of Sedgefield
However, there are signs that Labour is 'patching the cracks' in its so-called 'red wall' of seats across the North and the Midlands.
Conservative strategists fear that an ugly row over the NHS on Monday has damaged their campaign and candidates say the election is now 'on a knife edge'.
The Tories' shrinking lead means that Labour are now on course to retain Tory target seats such as Tom Watson's former constituency of West Bromwich East
The impact of Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage's  decision to only run in Labour-held seats will also be revealed.
Here is how election night is shaping to pan out:  
Polling stations close, followed immediately by the publication of the exit poll. It will be announced live on the BBC, ITV and Sky News, and will offer the first clues as to how the night will unfold. At each of the past few elections, the exit poll has produced a very accurate projection of the actual result.
By 11pm
Two constituencies are racing to be first to declare: Houghton and Sunderland South and Newcastle-upon-Tyne Central
Both results are expected around 11pm and both are safe Labour seats, so it will be the change in Labour's share of the vote - and the size of a potential swing to the Conservatives - that will be most useful in providing further clues to the overall election result. 
There should also be the first indications of turnout.
By 12am
Four more safe Labour seats are likely to have declared, all in north-east England. 
Again, look out for any evidence of a change in Labour's vote share and a possible swing to the Conservatives.
By 1am
Workington could be the first seat of the night to change hands. 
If the Conservatives take it from Labour, Boris Johnson might be on course for a comfortable majority in the new parliament. 
If Labour holds on, the overall result could be a lot closer. 
North Down should be the first result of the night from Northern Ireland - a seat formerly held by the Independent MP Sylvia Hermon, and being targeted at this election by the DUP, the Ulster Unionists and the Alliance.
By 2am
Results will start to pick up. If Labour is doing well, they may take CarlislePutneyThurrock and Vale of Glamorgan from the Conservatives. 
If Labour is doing badly, they could see the likes of Stockton SouthWrexham and West Bromwich West being gained by the Tories. 
Plaid Cymru will hope to hold Arfon and Dwyfor Meirionnydd, while the DUP will be looking to keep Lagan ValleyLondonderry East and Strangford.
The first results will come from Scottish seats being defended by the SNP, such as Dunbartonshire West, and Lanark and Hamilton East.
By 3am
A flood of results is expected. Former Tory MP Dominic Grieve is hoping to win Beaconsfield as an Independent. 
The Lib Dems will want to hold Brecon and Radnorshire, which they gained from the Conservatives earlier in the year, and retake Nick Clegg's former seat of Sheffield Hallam from Labour. 
Labour might defeat Iain Duncan Smith in Chingford and Woodford Green, while the Lib Dems could take Esher and Walton from Dominic Raab. 
The result is due from Dartford, a bellwether seat since 1964. 
The SNP have their eyes on the Tory seats of Ochil and Perthshire South and Stirling. If Labour is having a good night, they will be making gains in places like Telford and Worcester.
If the Tories are performing well, they will hope to take seats like Great Grimsby (a Labour seat since 1945), Bishop Auckland (Labour seat since 1935) and Don Valley (Labour since 1922). 
Jeremy Corbyn's result in Islington North is due, as is Jo Swinson's result in Dunbartonshire East. Sinn Fein will be hoping to keep their marginal seat Foyle.
By 4am
Over half of the results will be in, and the overall trend of the night should be clear. 
Labour targets such as Harrow EastLoughborough and Milton Keynes South will declare, likewise Lib Dem targets like St Albans and Cheltenham. All are being defended by the Conservatives. 
Labour will hope to hold the ultra-marginal seats of Canterbury and Crewe and Nantwich, as well as IpswichLincoln and Rother Valley, which are all Tory targets. 
Plaid Cymru is defending Ceredigion against challenges from the Lib Dems, Labour and the Tories. 
The SNP will hope to hold Fife North East and with a larger margin than they managed in 2017, when they had a majority of just two. 
The Ulster Unionists are hoping to take Fermanagh and South Tyrone from Sinn Fein.
By 5am
Anna Soubry should have discovered whether she's been able to hold Broxtowe for the Change party. 
Boris Johnson should also know whether he's safely back in Uxbridge and South Ruislip, where he won only a slim majority over Labour in 2017. 
Kensington, another of Labour's ultra-marginals, should have declared by now, although the result in 2017 needed several recounts and wasn't confirmed until nearly 24 hours after polls closed. 
The Lib Dems have a chance to make a couple of gains from the Tories in Cheadle and Hazel Grove, while the SNP could do likewise in Gordon.
Dennis Skinner could be unseated by the Conservatives in Bolsover, and other Labour seats at risk include AshfieldColne Valley and Keighley.
By 6am
Result should have slowed to a trickle. 
A handful of seats in London could deliver some late upsets: Labour is hoping to take Chipping Barnet and Hendon from the Conservatives, while the Liberal Democrats could unseat the Tories in Finchley and Golders Green and Richmond Park
The Lib Dems are also eyeing the Tory seat of Wells.
By 7am
Remainer Caroline Lucas will have discovered if she has been re-elected as the Green MP for Brighton Pavilion.
By 10am
There is the possibility of some very late gains for the Lib Dems in South West England, who are hoping to defeat the Tories in Cornwall NorthSt Austell and Newquay and St Ives
Recounts could delay some of the declarations from earlier, but every seat is due to begin counting overnight so there is a good chance all 650 results will be in by mid-morning. 
The likely scenarios... and how they would play out: JACK DOYLE analyses the possible election outcomes
Tory majority
What happens: The Red Wall of Labour seats crumbles, and Boris Johnson makes enough gains in the Midlands and North to more than offset a small number of losses elsewhere. Predictions of widespread tactical voting by Remainers are proven wrong, and the Brexit Party vote is reduced to single digits in all but a handful of seats.
Consequences: A national sigh of relief. With a small but manageable majority, Mr Johnson returns to No 10 on Friday morning, triumphant. Forcing MPs to sit right up to Christmas, he gets his Brexit deal through the Commons in record time and we’re out by January 31. Trade talks with the EU prove more straightforward than many fear, and Mr Johnson can concentrate on improving public services.
Tories largest party
What happens: 2017 redux. Mr Johnson picks up a few seats in the North and Midlands, but not nearly enough and loses a handful in London and the South East. Overall he’s up, but is painfully just a few seats short of a majority. Jeremy Corbyn attempts to form a rainbow coalition with the SNP, Lib Dems and Greens but is also short of numbers.
Consequences: Utter paralysis, and the mother of all Parliamentary bunfights. Boris stays in No 10, but is unable to ‘Get Brexit Done’ because he can’t get any other parties to back his deal, which the DUP loathe. Pro-Remain opposition parties try to force another extension to Article 50 beyond January 31, while Mr Johnson uses the threat of No Deal to try to force his through. In a state of crisis, the country goes back to the polls early next year.
Corbyn/SNP government
What happens: The Brexit Party does better than expected, splitting the Leave vote, while bad weather depresses Tory turnout. Meanwhile, tactical voting by Remainers hands Mr Corbyn a string of seats. The Labour leader is still miles short of a majority but with the help of the SNP he can run a minority government.
Consequences: The Tories are the largest party, but have no allies and can’t build a majority. Mr Johnson resigns. After Nicola Sturgeon agrees to prop him up in return for a second independence referendum, Mr Corbyn enters No 10. The markets panic and there’s a run on the pound. Some Jews leave Britain. After a brief negotiation, Mr Corbyn presents a Brexit deal which preserves free movement, gives the vote to two million EU nationals and Remain romps to victory in a toxic and divisive second referendum.

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