August 21, 2019 / 8:49 AM / a month ago

Conservatives take 14 percent point lead over Labour - Kantar poll

LONDON (Reuters) - British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Conservative Party has opened up a 14 percentage point lead over the opposition Labour Party as Johnson’s tougher stance on Brexit wins back supporters, according to a poll published on Wednesday.

FILE PHOTO: Boris Johnson leaves his office in London, Britain July 22, 2019. REUTERS/Henry Nicholls/File Photo

Johnson, a Brexiteer who won the premiership a month ago, has vowed to lead the United Kingdom out of the European Union on Oct. 31 with or without a deal. His predecessor, Theresa May, delayed Brexit after failing to ratify a divorce deal.

With talk of an election swirling in London, an online Kantar poll showed 42% of voters would now vote for the Conservatives, up from 25% in May, and 28% for Labour, down from 34% in May, when the last comparable poll was taken.

The poll showed 15% would vote for the Liberal Democrats, unchanged since May, 5% for the Brexit Party, down from 10% in May, and 5% for the Scottish National Party, unchanged.

“There has been a significant shift,” Craig Watkins, the UK CEO of Kantar Public, told Reuters.

“We have a new Conservative prime minister who has taken a very clear stance on handling the Brexit negotiation and Brexit itself and that messaging seems to be cutting through to the public,” he added.

The online poll of 1,133 people was carried out Aug. 15-19.

More than three years after the United Kingdom voted to leave the EU, it is still unclear on what terms - or indeed whether - the bloc’s second largest economy will leave the club it joined in 1973.

Amid the political turmoil in London, little is clear. But many politicians expect an election within months.

“Boris Johnson has taken a hard stance on Brexit and that message cuts across what the Brexit Party and UKIP are saying so it looks like his stance is reducing their vote,” Watkins said.

“The main shift has been that Conservatives have gone up, Labour down and the Brexit Party and UKIP very much markedly down,” he added.

It wasn’t all good news for Johnson, though.

A total of 52% of respondents backed a public vote on a Brexit deal whilst 29% opposed such a move and 19% said they did not know, according to Kantar.

And just 23 percent of Britons said that leaving without a deal would be their preferred outcome, though 22 percent of voters said they did not know what their preferred option would be for leaving the EU.

Editing by Stephen Addison

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