Britain readies for election after tumultuous campaign

Polls put Corbyn between one and 12 points behind May with youth turnout expected to decide the outcome of the vote.

    Campaigning for the general election in the UK is drawing to a close and millions of Britons will head to the polls within hours to choose their next government.

    The general election on Thursday pits Prime Minister Theresa May's Conservative Party against Jeremy Corbyn's Labour, with the nationalist Scottish National Party expected to continue its domination in Scotland.

    The centrist Liberal Democrat party has positioned itself as the party that will reject Brexit and hold a second referendum, but that platform has only earned them a modest increase in the opinion polls.

    While the election was widely expected to be fought on the basis of upcoming Brexit negotiations with the European Union, two recent attacks that killed at least 30 people and wounded scores of others brought security to the top of the agenda.

    Both attacks, one in Manchester and the other in London, were believed to have been inspired by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS) group.

    Corbyn has attacked May for cutting police numbers during her time as home secretary and leaving the country vulnerable to threats.

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    The Conservatives for their part have attacked the Labour leader over his record on voting against anti-terror legislation.

    But the election is not being fought on security issues alone, with Labour's platform promising a dramatic reversal of austerity policies brought in by the Conservatives when they took power in 2010.

    "Our Westminster system is broken and our economy is rigged, both are run in the interests of the few," Corbyn said in a speech earlier in the campaign.

    "Labour is under attack because we are standing up to the elites who are determined to hijack Brexit and pay even less tax and take even more of the wealth that we all create."

    The Conservatives say a government led by Labour would lead to overspending and political instability.

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    "It’s a choice between me working constantly to protect the national interest and to protect our security, and Jeremy Corbyn frankly isn't up to the job," May said.

    At the start of the campaign, May marketed her next government as the "strong and stable" option, and according to the polls, many Britons agreed with her, with a 25 point Conservative lead over Labour.

    However, Corbyn has whittled that lead down with pledges to scrap tuition fees, build a million more homes, and nationalise core industries, such as rail and energy.

    Most polling companies, with the exception of YouGov, still expect May to win a majority but her lead is between one and 12 points.

    The large disparity in the polls has been put down to the methodology used - particularly estimates of how many young people will turn up to vote.

    Corbyn has the support of nearly three-quarters of people between the ages of 18 and 24 but the demographic also has the lowest turnout rates.

    The extent to which supporters of both major parties use tactical voting to limit their opponents' chances also remains a possible factor in influencing the outcome.

    Whoever wins will be tasked with negotiating Britain's departure from the EU, with formal talks due to start in little over a week.

    Both Labour and the Conservatives have ruled out reversing the outcome of last year’s referendum.


    SOURCE: Al Jazeera


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