The 2017 general election draws to a close on Thursday evening, with the UK Prime Minister likely to be confirmed by early Friday morning.
Theresa May called the election on April 18, claiming her Conservative government needed to establish certainty and security heading into Brexit negotiations with the European Union. At the time, Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour party didn’t seem to be in with much of a chance, and some commentators speculated that Mrs May had called the election simply to capitalise on the inefficiency of the opposition.
A lot has changed since then, with the following seven big stories helping to shape the 2017 general election.
1. The call
Theresa May’s original call for an election was a big story in itself, as she had previously insisted that she wouldn’t call a general election before 2020.
Nevertheless, the Conservatives opened up the campaign with a 24 point lead on Labour. At the outset, it looked like this would be one of the most one sided election victories in recent memory.
2. Social care
When the Conservatives launched their manifesto, it became clear that this election may not be as straightforward as some commentators had predicted.
The key controversy was over Theresa May’s social care policy. This would raise the threshold for free care from £23,250 to £100,000 and include property in the means test. After four days, the party added that there would be an “absolute limit” on costs.
3. Tuition fees
With the Labour manifesto, Jeremy Corbyn divided opinion by promising to scrap tuition fees from September. This will also include tuition fees of students currently undertaking courses. The cost of this is estimated at £9.5 billion per a year.
4. Labour’s numbers
One of the issues Labour struggled with during their campaign was numbers, and this was especially true during Diane Abbott’s appearance on LBC radio. The shadow home secretary claimed that 10,000 extra police officers Labour intend to recruit would cost £300,000. In other words, Abbott wrongly believed an officer would be paid £30 a year.
Participation in television debates has been one of the hot issues during this election, with Theresa May refusing from the outset. Jeremy Corbyn also declined to take part, claiming he would only do so if Mrs May was there.
Corbyn then decided on the day of the May 31 BBC Leaders’ debate that he would take part. The move put pressure on Theresa May to show up, she responded by saying “debates where the politicians are squabbling amongst themselves doesn’t do anything for the process of electioneering.”
Sadly, one of the biggest stories of the general election campaign has been terrorism. The Manchester arena attack on May 22 killed 22 people, and saw Jeremy Corbyn changing his campaign focus to security.
Two weeks after Manchester came the London terror attack, which killed seven people and injured 48. With just five days until the election, this has put the issues of policing and intelligence at the forefront of the campaigns.
7. Tightening opinion polls
Despite starting as heavy outsiders, Labour have managed to narrow the polling gap with the Conservatives. Jeremy Corbyn, once seen as an impossibility to be a Labour leader, is now potentially on the brink of becoming Prime Minister.
Theresa May’s original 24 point lead is now down to 4 points, with YouGov’s election model projection showing the Conservatives on 42 and Labour on 38.
However, Mrs May remains a big favourite with bookmakers to remain Prime Minister, with odds of 1/5.
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