International

U.K.’s poll campaign enters final stage

Brexit ahead: Boris Johnson, centre, at Fergusons Transport’s warehouse in Washington, England, on Tuesday.

Brexit ahead: Boris Johnson, centre, at Fergusons Transport’s warehouse in Washington, England, on Tuesday.  

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Johnson is hoping the election will hand his ruling Conservatives a majority to push Brexit with the EU

Britain’s election campaign entered its frenetic final straight on Monday with Prime Minister Boris Johnson trying to lock in the votes needed to draw a line under years of arguments and paralysis over European Union membership.

Mr. Johnson is hoping Thursday’s poll will hand his ruling Conservatives a majority, to allow him to push through his Brexit divorce deal with Brussels.

Parliament deadlocked

Parliament has been deadlocked since the result of the last election in 2017, which saw the Tories lose their majority and weaken their ability to implement the result of the 2016 referendum on EU membership.

The main opposition Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn is trying to upset the odds and usher in Britain’s first leftist government in nine years.

The veteran socialist has promised to negotiate his own EU divorce deal and then put it up for a vote in a new referendum that could still keep Britain partially tied to Europe — or simply cancel Brexit outright.

Opinion polls show the Conservatives maintaining a healthy lead.

But Mr. Johnson needs to win at least half of the House of Commons seats because his party has no clear partners among the smaller parties.

Some polls suggest the vote could produce another hung Parliament that extends Britain’s political paralysis and further frustrates the business community and Brussels.

“We’re taking nothing for granted,” Mr. Johnson said during a visit to a fish market in the northeastern port of Grimsby.

‘Red wall’

“We’re working very, very hard across the whole country.”

The northeast of England bore the brunt of some of the global changes that made U.K. industries uncompetitive and forced the country to open up its fishing waters to the other 27 EU states.

Grimsby is part of a so-called “red wall” that traditionally backs Labour because of its support for trade unions and emphasis on social spending.

The deep ideological divide between the two main parties has produced a fractious and highly personal campaign.

Mr. Johnson has faced constant questions over his trustworthiness and Mr. Corbyn has been put on the back foot over anti-Semitism within his party.

Mr. Corbyn’s main attack line has been to accuse Mr. Johnson of opening up Britain’s cherished National Health Service (NHS) to U.S. businesses as part of a post-Brexit trade deal with President Donald Trump.

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Printable version | Jan 29, 2020 10:33:41 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/uks-poll-campaign-enters-final-stage/article30259762.ece

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