Poll shows smaller lead for British PM's Conservatives: The Times

LONDON:  British Prime Minister Theresa May's Conservative Party holds a 16-point lead over the main opposition Labour Party ahead of a national election on June 8, an opinion poll showed on Wednesday, a smaller lead than other polls have suggested.

The YouGov poll conducted for The Times newspaper showed support for the Conservatives at 45 percent, down three percentage points from a YouGov poll conducted last week.

Labour increased its support by four points to 29 percent, while the smaller Liberal Democrats were down two points at 10 percent and UKIP rose two points to 7 percent, The Times said.

The poll findings excluded "don't knows" and "would not vote" responses.

The YouGov poll suggested a somewhat tighter race than the picture painted by two other surveys published earlier on Wednesday which had shown the Conservatives enjoying leads of 23 and 22 points over Labour.

One of those two polls, by Ipsos MORI, said the lead of the Conservatives was equal to that commanded by former prime minister Margaret Thatcher before her 1983 landslide victory.

The Times also said its YouGov poll showed that for the first time since June's Brexit vote more voters believed that the referendum decision to leave the European Union was a mistake than those who thought it was the right decision.

Forty-five percent of respondents thought it was the wrong decision compared with 43 percent who said it was correct while 12 percent said they did not know.

British voters split 52-48 percent in favour of leaving the EU at the referendum which the government has said cannot be reversed.

May, who replaced David Cameron as prime minister shortly after last June's referendum shock, repeatedly ruled out a snap election until April 18 when she announced the June 8 vote.

May is seeking to bolster her majority in parliament ahead of potentially disruptive EU divorce talks and has gambled that the low level of support for the Labour Party under left-wing leader Jeremy Corbyn gives her a good chance to achieve that.

The Times/YouGov poll was reported by the newspaper's deputy political editor on Twitter. Details of the sample size and the dates of polling were not immediately available.