The UK's two big political parties, the ruling Conservatives and the main opposition Labour, are neck and neck for the first time in over a year in a new opinion poll. The poll issued on Sunday by Opinium for the Observer newspaper, gave both Prime Minister Boris Johnson's Conservatives and the Labour 40 points each, reports Xinhua news agency.
This meant that a lead of 26 points at its peak for Johnson has been wiped out. Political commentators in London believe the result will send shockwaves through Westminster as politicians prepare to return to the House of Commons on Tuesday after their lengthy summer recess.
Game of Leads
On the opposition benches, however, the result will be welcomed by Labour MPs, headed by Keir Starmer, who replaced former party leader Jeremy Corbyn earlier this year. Opinium's Adam Drummond said: "This is the first time Labour have drawn level since July 2019 when both main parties were in freefall and losing votes to the Brexit Party and the Liberal Democrats."
Since Johnson became Prime Minister, the Conservatives "typically had a double-digit lead, peaking in March/April this year when they were seen to be handling the pandemic and lockdown fairly well while Labour changed leader".
"In the five months since that peak, the lead has gradually declined from 26 percent to 0 percent now." As well as steering the country through the pandemic, Johnson faces a tough potentially make-or-break month September on Brexit negotiations with the European Union (EU).
No Extension in UK's Transition Period
Both sides are scheduled to hold informal talks this week ahead of a formal negotiating round the following week. The Sunday Times reported that both sides have regarded that a no-deal was much more likely than it was a month ago.
Johnson has insisted that there will be no extension of the UK's transition period beyond the December 31 deadline which was set when the country's membership in the EU ended on January 31. The aim of the transition period was to allow both sides to strike a permanent post-Brexit trade deal.
The Sunday Times commented: "EU officials no longer think an agreement is likely to be struck before the European Council meeting on October 15-16. "They are informally discussing whether there should be a separate Brexit leaders' summit, or whether a 'legal vehicle' could be devised to extend talks past December 31."