As we approach the home straight in this election race, Headland gathered the Three Wise Men for their take on the campaign so far:
Charles Grant – the ultimate European political insider, who knows everyone from Tony Blair to Emmanuel Macron
John Curtice – ‘Professor Politics’ himself and the one pollster in the UK who emerged with credit at the last election, by actually predicting the result
John Sergeant – the veteran political journalist, writer and TV host who combines heavyweight analysis with light-touch humour
They gathered on the morning after the leaders’ TV dust-up with Paxman for a much more enjoyable and interesting event.
Here’s what we learnt:
The much-expected big Conservative majority is failing to materialise.
In 2015, the Conservatives’ seven-point lead in the polls led to a majority of just 12.
According to Professor Curtice, to win a majority of over 60, they need to be polling 13 points ahead of Labour. The latest poll yesterday gave them just a five point headstart.
The growing age gap…
Galvanising the younger vote is crucial to Labour’s apparent advance. If 18-24 year olds turn up at the polling stations, it could significantly reduce any Conservative majority.
The other divide to watch is between the regions; Conservatives are advancing strongly in the Midlands and north of England, typically considered to be Labour heartlands.
If May can shore up votes here, the Conservatives will be sitting pretty.
Despite dominating almost every waking hour in the UK, European leaders don’t have much interest in who our next Prime Minister will be.
They’ve got much more pressing issues on their agenda, from restraining Russia to balancing the euro to trying to second-guess President Trump.
He scares Europe much more than May or Corbyn.
“No such thing as a Brexit triumph for the UK"
It’s impossible for the UK to have a brilliant Brexit. So said John Sergeant and Charles Grant.
Angela Merkel and Emmanuel Macron simply can’t allow a British triumph.
Their absolute ‘red line’ is stopping anything which might further encourage anti-EU sentiment.
If Britain’s economy crashes and burns as a result of a bad deal, or no deal at all, it’s going to make every European politician think twice about the potential benefits and risks of leaving the EU.
Brexit negotiations could all be decided by fish
Yes, you read that right. Fish are our strongest bargaining tool, argued Charles Grant, who estimates a 30% chance of a ‘no-deal’ situation occurring.
Apparently, most of Europe’s fish supply comes from British waters so it’s the only industry where Europe need us more than we need them.
Note that Grant considers himself an optimist when it comes to securing a trade deal.
Our panellists all agreed on one thing. It’s very unlikely that Labour will be forming the next government.
What is up for debate, is how much the Conservatives win by.
Professor Curtice has long argued that it’s virtually impossible for either Labour or the Conservatives to win a landslide victory in modern politics, thanks to the lack of marginal constituencies and the rise of other parties in Scotland and Northern Ireland.
The popularity of Labour’s manifesto is dented by the unpopularity of its leader. But don’t bank on this delivering a landslide for Theresa May next week.