Boris Johnson keeps poll lead as parties spar over economy

Ruling Conservative party has a 13-point lead over its nearest challenger, polls show

LONDON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 10: (NO SALE/NO ARCHIVE) Chancellor of the Exchequer Sajid Javid is interviewed on The Andrew Marr Show on November 10, 2019 in London, England. (Photo by Jeff Overs/BBC Picture Publicity via Getty Images)
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Britain’s ruling Conservative Party emerged from a chaotic first week of election campaigning with its lead intact despite the loss of a cabinet minister and several candidates accused of racist and sexist comments, opinion polls suggested Sunday.

Support for the Conservatives, led by Prime Minister Boris Johnson, remained steady at 39 per cent, while the main opposition Labour party fell one point to 26 per cent, according to the YouGov poll for The Sunday Times.

The anti-Brexit Liberal Democrats were up a point to 17 per cent while the Brexit Party, led by arch EU critic Nigel Farage, gained three points to stand at 10 per cent a month before the election.

The poll was carried out on Thursday and Friday and followed the resignation as Welsh Secretary of Alun Cairns just minutes before Mr Johnson launched his party's campaign.

Mr Cairns was accused of lying over what he knew about an aide’s role in the sabotage of a rape trial. He is still standing as an MP.

On Thursday, a Conservative candidate and radio broadcaster quit over comments he made about rape during a programme in 2014.

And at the weekend, another candidate stepped down after Facebook posts were found in which he suggested Muammar Qaddafi should have travelled to hide in Bradford, where a quarter of the population is Muslim.

One of Labour's candidates quit over an anti-Semitic slur.

The ruling party turned its fire on Labour’s economic plans at the weekend and warned that its spending pledges would cost £1.2 trillion (Dh5.64tn) and plunge the UK into economic crisis within months.

Sajid Javid, the Chancellor, said the opposition would spend an extra £650 million a day if it won national elections on December 12.

But Labour described the analysis as a “ludicrous piece of Tory fake news” and an “incompetent mish-mash of debunked estimates and bad maths”.

The Labour party plans to nationalise key industries including rail and postal networks, and has promised spending on housing and health care.

It has said it will invest in infrastructure to shift wealth from London and the south-east to the north of the country.

The dispute over rival plans for spending comes as the government faces continued pressure over an unpublished report that examined Russian influence in British politics.

Nine Russian business people who gave money to the Conservative Party were named in the report, The Sunday Times said.

The head of the parliamentary committee that drew up the report accused the government of sitting on it to avoid embarrassment.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps told the BBC on Sunday that the report had been delayed because of election rules.