British Prime Minister Theresa May's Conservative Party risks falling short of winning an overall majority of seats in Parliament in a national election on June 8, the Times newspaper says, quoting research by polling firm YouGov.
In contrast to signs from a string of opinion polls, the new constituency-by-constituency modelling by YouGov showed it might lose 20 of the 330 seats it holds and the opposition Labour Party could gain nearly 30 seats, the Times said.
That could leave the Conservatives 16 seats short of the overall majority of 326 needed to govern without the support of other parties, the newspaper said.
Generally, polls indicate Jeremy Corbyn's Labour creeping up on the Conservatives, but about 8 points behind on average.
While May is still the clear favorite, an upset would bring to power a government that wants to nationalise industries and re-write decades of foreign policy.
Corbyn's manifesto pledges an income tax increase for the top 5 per cent of earners - those with an income of more than £80,000 - and tax on private health insurance as part of a plan to inject a further £6 billion a year into the National Health Service. Corporations would also pay "a little more:" 26 per cent by 2020, up from 19 per cent now.
Raising the top rate of income tax risks "diminishing the UK's appeal," according to Nina Skero, at the Centre for Economics and Business Research. Increasing corporation tax is a popular measure with the public amid anger at corporate tax avoidance. The Institute for Fiscal Studies said neither of the main parties were being honest about how much tax rates would have to rise, and said there is "no way" Labour spending pledges could all be paid for by top earners.
Corbyn has found it difficult to formulate a Brexit strategy knowing his party is more divided than the Tories over the merits of leaving the EU. Labour's manifesto "accepts" the result of the referendum and Corbyn says that as the matter is "settled," there won't be another vote.
The party promises to scrap May's negotiating strategy and prioritise membership of the single market and customs union in the talks with the EU. That would be hard to achieve given the party has also said it would end free movement of labour, which EU officials say the UK must keep it if wants to maintain market access.
Labour has also rejected May's view that "no deal is better than a bad deal" by saying no pact would be the "worst possible" option and that a Labour government would negotiate a transitional accord. Again the EU would have to agree to that, although Corbyn's proposal to immediately guarantee existing rights for EU citizens living in Britain would generate goodwill.
3 Public Spending
Labour pledges to scrap university tuition fees, which have been controversial since they were first introduced in 1998. Corbyn pledges "the biggest council building programme for at least 30 years" while introducing controls on rent rises to "end insecurity for private renters." At the same time they will eliminate the budget deficit within five years.
A pledge to get rid of tuition fees was a winning gambit for the Liberal Democrats in 2010, but their failure to deliver once they got into government may make voters more sceptical this time around. It is also expensive; the IFS estimates bringing back maintenance grants and abolishing tuition fees would increase the deficit by about 8 billion pounds a year.
Labour also wants to renationalise Royal Mail and bring railways back into state ownership as the private franchises expire.
Unlike the Conservatives, who have repeated their pledge to cut immigration to the "tens of thousands" throughout the campaign, Corbyn hasn't set a numerical target. Instead, his manifesto promises "fair rules and reasonable management of migration." The manifesto also pledges a "crackdown" on companies using migrant workers to suppress wages.
Corbyn, a longtime peace activist who opposed British involvement in wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya, has drawn a link between foreign wars and attacks on British soil. "The blame is with the terrorists but we must be honest about the causes," he says.
Labour will reallocate existing money rather than promising extra funding to fight terror, putting more resources towards anti-radicalisation programmes and community policing.
The Labour leader has promised to carry out a strategic defence review, replace Trident nuclear missiles and maintain spending on the armed forces above the NATO benchmark of 2 per cent of GDP.
Nothing is straightforward on defense for Labour. While the party supports the renewal of Britain's nuclear weapons, Corbyn and his inner circle don't.
- Bloomberg, Reuters, AAP