British PM May’s Conservatives take 23 point poll lead, matching Thatcher landslide — Ipsos MORI

May and Corbyn face off in last PMQs before British election. (Video grab from Reuters)
Updated 27 April 2017

British PM May’s Conservatives take 23 point poll lead, matching Thatcher landslide — Ipsos MORI

LONDON: British Prime Minister Theresa May’s Conservatives have almost twice as much voter support as the opposition Labour Party ahead of a June 8 election, a lead equal to that commanded by Margaret Thatcher before her 1983 landslide victory, Ipsos MORI said.
Since May surprised rivals and financial markets by calling a snap election, opinion polls have shown May has far greater support than Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and that she is likely to win a big majority in the 650-seat lower house of parliament.
An Ipsos MORI telephone poll of 1,004 adults conducted on April 21-25 put the Conservative lead at 23 percentage points, while a Panelbase online poll of 1,026 people on April 20-24 put their lead on 22 percentage points.
“The Conservatives are starting the campaign matching the biggest lead we have ever recorded for them during an election campaign — which was back in 1983 ahead of Thatcher’s victory,” Gideon Skinner, head of political research at Ipsos MORI, told Reuters.
Thatcher, riding a wave of popularity after the Falklands War against Argentina, won a 144-seat majority in that election against Labour’s Michael Foot, whose left-wing socialist manifesto was branded by a party colleague as “the longest suicide note in history.”
May’s predecessor, David Cameron, won a majority of 12 seats in a 2015 election, the first overall Conservative victory since Thatcher’s successor, John Major, won in 1992.
MAY’S GAMBLE
After winning Britain’s top job in the political turmoil which followed the June 23 Brexit vote, May repeatedly ruled out a snap election until last Tuesday, when she announced outside her 10 Downing Street residence she would seek a new mandate.
May is betting that the weakness of Labour leader Corbyn and the unexpected resilience of the British economy since the Brexit vote will bolster her majority in parliament ahead of potentially disruptive EU divorce talks.
“These numbers suggest that the immediate public reaction has been just what she was probably hoping for: there are no signs of a negative reaction to her calling the election, while leadership and competence are going to be important factors in this election,” said Skinner from Ipsos MORI.
The Ipsos MORI poll put May’s party up 6 percentage points from March on 49 percent, Labour down 4 percentage points on 26, the Liberal Democrats unchanged on 13 percent and the United Kingdom Independence Party down 2 percentage points on 4 percent.
The poll showed 61 percent of voters thought May would be the most capable prime minister, well ahead of the 23 percent who said Corbyn would be.
Ipsos MORI also found that 63 percent of those expressing a voting intention had already made up their mind, with 78 percent of Conservative voters and 56 percent of Labour supporters saying they had made their decision.
The Panelbase poll put May’s party on 49 percent, up 10 percentage points since it last polled in January, Labour down 4 points to 27 percent and UKIP down 9 points to 5 percent.
Amid concerns about voter fatigue with politics after a 2014 independence referendum in Scotland, the 2015 general election and the 2016 Brexit vote, May has cautioned against complacency, saying she is not taking anything for granted.
Skinner declined to predict whether May would win a majority to rival Thatcher’s more than three decades ago.
“I won’t be making any projections on seats or majorities partly because it is a snap election, so it wouldn’t be surprising to see some fluctuation in public opinion in the campaign,” he said. “But clearly it is looking very positive for the Conservatives.”


EU weighs options as Turkey stand-off grinds on

Updated 04 December 2020

EU weighs options as Turkey stand-off grinds on

  • Next week’s EU summit will be held in Brussels with leaders meeting face-to-face
  • Turkey and Greece countries are NATO members and the alliance has set up a “de-confliction mechanism”

BRUSSELS: European Council chief Charles Michel said Friday that Turkey has not de-escalated its stand-off with Greece and warned EU members now need to consider tougher options.
“I think that the cat and mouse game needs to end,” Michel said, referring to Turkey’s repeated incursions into Greek waters with gas exploration vessels.
“We will have a debate at the European summit on December 10 and we are ready to use the means at our disposal,” he added.
Next week’s EU summit will be held in Brussels with leaders meeting face-to-face after videoconferences were held as a coronavirus prevention measure.
One possibility, backed by some members, would be economic sanctions, but many states are not convinced.
EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell told a conference in Italy “the EU Council will have to take the decision that only the EU can take, because the sanctions regime, it’s a matter for the member states.”
“There are not very many positive signals that came from Turkey during these months — in Cyprus and on the drilling, the talks between Greece and Turkey have not been developing,” he said.
Turkey has been challenging Greece over maritime territory in the Eastern Mediterranean, repeatedly sending a gas exploration vessel into Greek waters.
Both countries are NATO members and the alliance has set up a “de-confliction mechanism” to help avoid accidental military clashes.
But a German-led diplomatic approach to Ankara has made little progress in resolving the underlying issues, and some EU members — notably France and Greece itself — are pushing for stronger action.
Other EU capitals are more cautious, some fearing an escalating stand-off could see Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government once again allow a wave of refugees to head for EU borders.
Michel, who will host the summit, expressed Europe’s frustration.
“In October, after a very dense and strategic high level exchange, we defined a very positive offer to Turkey, we extended our hands,” he told a news conference to mark his first year in office.
“But the condition to move in that area is that Turkey needs to stop unilateral provocations, hostile statements, and the non-respect of international principles and rules-based society.
“Well, since October, things have not been very positive,” Michel noted.
“Since that time, we’ve seen that there have been unilateral acts that have taken place, a hostile rhetoric has been expressed.”
Backed by Turkish navy frigates, the research vessel the Oruc Reis was first deployed in August and again in October to the waters off Kastellorizo island, in defiance of EU and US calls to stop.
It returned to port again in October, but may go back to the disputed zone while Ankara says that, with its long Mediterranean coastline, its claim to sovereign waters in the region is stronger than Greece’s, which is based on its ownership of tiny Kastellorizo.