Poll shows 'dead heat' after UK election leaders' debate

Reuters

A snap poll released immediately after a pre-election debate between Prime Minister Boris Johnson and opposition Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn showed a "dead heat", according to YouGov.

A total of 51% of respondents said Johnson performed best overall whilst 49% said Corbyn was stronger, according to figures which excluded those who said they did not know.

"On balance this is probably better for the Labour leader, why? Because a dead heat when you are significantly behind in the polls is probably better news for you that the person who is leading," said YouGov's Political Research Manager Chris Curtis.

"It doesn't seem from these initial numbers to be a game changing moment."

Other polls told a different story, however.

More than three years after Britain voted to leave the EU, traditional political divides have become blurred, with few able or willing to predict a victor in the December election which will determine how, when and even whether Brexit happens.

Polls looking to gauge how the public intends to vote put Johnson's Conservatives as much as 18 percentage points ahead of Labour, but the numbers can vary widely.

To try to land a decisive blow in an election campaign which few voters relish, both leaders went on the attack, with Johnson trying to portray his rival as indecisive, while Corbyn questioned whether the prime minister could be trusted.

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They even struggled to think of Christmas presents they would give each other. Corbyn settled on the book "A Christmas Carol" by Charles Dickens so Johnson "could then understand how nasty Scrooge was". Johnson eventually picked damson jam.

Johnson, who has been criticised for breaking his promises including a "do or die pledge" to deliver Brexit by Oct. 31, was laughed at when, asked whether he could be trusted, said: "Look at what I have said I'm going to do as a politician and look what I've delivered."

Corbyn, who has been criticised for not tackling anti-Semitism, drew muttering from the audience when he said all such cases had been investigated and those found guilty of making anti-Semitic comments were "either suspended or expelled from the party".