World

Win for May depends on election turnout

WAKEFIELD, ENGLAND Until the Brexit referendum last June, Mr Gary Hill had never voted.

Now, under the shadow of a spate of terror attacks to hit the United Kingdom, the 58-year-old roofer plans to back Prime Minister Theresa May's Conservatives in Thursday's election because he wants Britain out of the European Union.

The EU divorce has broken the mould of British politics, luring new voters like Mr Hill to the ballot box and deeply eroding old party loyalties.

That makes turnout - and the election result - all the harder to call.

Mrs May, is now leading the march for the exit and if she can poach Brexit-supporting voters from the opposition Labour Party and the United Kingdom Independence Party, her move to call a snap election could pay off.

But if opposition Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn - who voted against EU membership in 1975 - can entice enough younger pro-EU supporters out to vote Labour in the hope of a "softer" Brexit, he could be in with a chance.

"As long as they get us out of Europe I'm not bothered (about other issues)", Mr Hill told Reuters.

"I've never agreed with Europe. They've got too much power over us now - we need to get it back."

This city, held by the Labour Party since 1932, voted 66 per cent in favour of leaving the EU. Turnout was more than 10 percentage points higher in the referendum than in the 2015 general election.

Whether people like Mr Hill will turn out again, and how far socialist leader Mr Corbyn will succeed in attracting his cohort of new voters, is driving uncertainty about the election result.

"(Turnout) is the big unknown, it is one of the reasons why there is a difference between all the polls at the moment," said Mr Anthony Wells, director of political and social research at pollsters YouGov. - REUTERS

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