Brexit blog: Countdown to polling day

With just a few days left until the nation goes to the polls, Zoe Chadwick gives us the latest of what's been happening in Westminster. 

There are just six days to go until the UK goes to the polls to vote for its Members of Parliament and ultimately the next government.

Campaigning was suspended by all parties last week as a mark of respect following the tragic events in Manchester.

The campaigns have resumed fully this week, but in a much different climate with the country on high alert and the issue of security much more at the forefront of people’s minds than it was this time two weeks ago. 

The contest is heating up

As the candidates enter their last week of campaigning, the race appears to be much tighter than it was originally thought to be.

When Theresa May called the snap election six weeks ago, most people thought that it was nigh-on guaranteed that a Conservative government would be returned, and with a greater majority, leaving the Labour party in tatters.

But that’s not looking quite so certain anymore.

The papers reported yesterday that Labour are just three points behind the Conservatives in the polls.

This compares to the 24-point lead the Conservatives had over Labour at the start of the election. 

We do of course have to take this with a pinch of salt. As we have learnt over the last two years in particular, election outcomes don’t necessarily reflect the polls.

The result will be dependent on voter turnout, particularly from young voters, and also the geographical spread of the votes.

But there can be no denying that Labour are gaining momentum, and as campaigning reaches its climax over the next week, the race will be on as the parties seek to win as many votes as possible to secure their right to form the next government. 

So why has Labour surged in the polls?

One might have expected that the horrific attacks in Manchester might have favoured Theresa May, as a former Home Secretary, but this has not been reflected in the polls.

Indeed, Jeremy Corbyn has blamed the government’s foreign policy for the Manchester attack, and this arguably seems to have struck a chord with some voters.

In addition, last week saw Theresa May dramatically U-turn on the so-called ‘dementia tax’ that featured in the Conservative manifesto.

May faced heavy opposition to her proposal that elderly people should pay for domiciliary care unless they have less than £100,000 in assets, as it would otherwise force them, for the first time, to use the value of their residential property.

May has since clarified the pledge in a somewhat softer tone, announcing that a new Conservative government would bring forward a green paper and consult on options for a limit on individuals’ care costs. 

This is of course not an ideal situation for May – this is the second U-turn she has had to make in the last three months, and it doesn’t do much to bolster her credibility at such a pivotal time in the election campaign. 

Also, some of you may have seen the Leaders’ Debate on Wednesday that was dominated by Theresa May’s absence.

The six other parties were represented by their leaders, but the Conservatives were represented by Home Secretary Amber Rudd.

Granted, Rudd did a good job given the circumstances, but the absence of the Conservative party leader was very noticeable and hasn’t done much to boost May’s (or her party’s) standing.

Everything hinges on 8th June

The countdown is well and truly on to polling day next Thursday.

The government that's formed following the election will have the monumental challenge of leading the country through the tricky Brexit negotiations.

It's this government that will represent the UK’s equestrian sector and interests and help shape the industry for the coming years.

Following the election I’ll report back on the result and the new government and what we know about how the result will affect the equine sector.

P.S. please don’t forget to vote! Polling stations will be open between 7am and 10pm on Thursday 8th June. Your polling card will tell you where your polling station is located.