Sputnik: A new YouGov poll has revealed that Boris Johnson’s Conservatives remain on course to win a parliamentary majority at Thursday’s general election but their predicted margin of victory has been halved in the past fortnight. How significant is this poll and what does it tell us between now and Thursday?
Ben Williams: Well it appears to be a lot closer than previous polls have been over recent weeks. So it would suggest that during the course of the campaign the Conservatives' lead, which has always been there in fairness, seems to have narrowed. That would suggest similarly to 2017 that events during the campaign itself have had an impact on some people's votes and in particular it would appear to have seen Labour rising up slightly from a relatively low position to closing the gap and moving closer towards the Conservatives, which if it's translated into actual votes, would mean the actual outcome is going to be close to what maybe many people will have predicted when the campaign began.
Sputnik: Could we see the Tories make any last-minute gains before tomorrow? Alternatively, could we see Labour continue to eat away at the Conservatives majority?
Ben Williams: I think it all depends on the next 48 hours as to what dominates the agenda. I mean it's quite clear that the Conservatives want to talk about Brexit more than any other issue - they want to make this the Brexit election and if they can keep talking about Brexit then it tends to work in their favour. What they don't seem to like and what seems to be working in Labour's favour when other issues seem to climb up the agenda. We've seen that this week with the incident in the hospital where a boy was pictured lying on a coat. Of course, Boris Johnson didn't appear to deal with the questions related to that particularly well. The NHS is a Labour area - it's an area where Labour normally poll well on and Labour would prefer to highlight that issue particularly at this time of year in winter. The NHS is facing various challenges and problems and, of course, the finger of blame can be pointed at the Conservatives on that issue because they have been in power and running the NHS now for the best part of a decade. I think really we have to wait and see now what issue(s) dominates the last few days and which party can get certain issues being talked about in their own interest.
Sputnik: For one moment let’s say this poll from YouGov is true and the Conservatives receive that majority of 20-30 seats. Is this big enough for Boris Johnson to deliver his Brexit deal or can we still expect delay and deadlock in parliament?
Ben Williams: Relatively speaking, if you secure the majority of let's say 30 seats he's obviously in a stronger position than when he began because when he began he didn't have a majority at all. So on that basis, it's a stronger position but I think if that was the result, I do sense he would be disappointed. I think the Conservatives at one point anticipated a much bigger majority and of course when you've got a much bigger majority you've got the capacity to do more things and you can deal with rebellion's better - there's always going to be the odd rebellion. With a fairly small majority of 20 to 30, it does give some power to troublesome backbench MPs who may not agree with Johnson on every issue. There are still some pro-European Conservative MPs that will be reelected. A majority of that size doesn't guarantee him the level of authority and control over the Brexit process that he would like. I think obviously if that was the results he's won but I don't think it'll be the victory maybe he anticipated a few weeks ago.
Sputnik: On a final note I know neither of us has a crystal ball at hand but with Thursday looming and with these polls out right now; what are your personal predictions for after Thursday? Do you think the Conservatives will receive this majority? Could we enter into a hung parliament? What are your predictions ahead of Thursday?
Ben Williams: I know people are sceptical of polls and some people don't believe them and some people think they are exaggerated I think they have some accuracy in them. You have to take on board that every single poll of this election campaign has put the Conservatives in the lead and so on that basis, I would say to you they can't all be wrong. I think we're coming from a position where it looks like the Conservatives are probably going to be the biggest party and I've always thought that probably that they would generally have a majority. I think what the polls are telling us is that there is a margin of error involved that we cannot rule out another hung parliament. I think if I was a betting man I’d sit on the fence a little bit. It's difficult to see an outright Labour victory but you know you can never rule anything out. A Conservative victory looks most likely but the way the polls are moving and the way there are allegedly a lot of undecided voters; if we woke up to a hung parliament on Friday morning I wouldn't be surprised. I think we may have a hung parliament with the Conservatives being the biggest party seeking support from smaller parties. If that did happen there is some who would say we're back to square one and what was the point of the election in the first place and that could really backfire on Boris Johnson and put him in a vulnerable position because it would appear really that he's wasted everyone's time over the last few weeks and months.
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