Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn are ending five weeks of frenetic general election campaigning in a fierce battle on Brexit and the NHS.
In a round-the clock sprint to the finishing line, the prime minister is hammering home his “Get Brexit Done” message, while Labour is claiming the future of the NHS is at stake.
And with the final opinion polls of the campaign suggesting Mr Johnson is on course for victory, Mr Corbyn is appealing to undecided voters to swing to Labour.
The final mega-poll of the campaign, with a sample of more than 100,000 voters, is suggesting a nine-point lead for the Conservatives. The poll, by YouGov, gives the Conservatives 43%, Labour 34% and the Liberal Democrats 12%.
That would give the Conservatives 339 seats, Labour 231, Lib Dems 15 and Scottish National Party 41 and would mean a Conservative majority of 28, though YouGov says a hung Parliament cannot be ruled out.
The climax of the election battle, which began on 6 November, comes after 48 hours in which both main parties suffered their most damaging setbacks of the campaign.
First, in a major blow for the Tories, Mr Johnson was condemned for his reaction to a four-year-old boy with suspected pneumonia who was forced to sleep on a hospital floor.
But then, in a huge embarrassment for Labour, shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth was secretly recorded claiming Labour’s election prospects were “dire” because voters “can’t stand Corbyn”.
After a day in which he drove a bulldozer at a fake wall to show he aims to smash the Brexit gridlock in Parliament, Mr Johnson is beginning the final day of his campaign on a milk round in Yorkshire, attempting to prove his ability to deliver.
He is also concluding his campaign with six key pledges:
• Get Brexit Done by 31 January 2020
• Invest record sums in our NHS, with 50,000 more nurses and 40 new hospitals
• 20,000 more police and tougher sentences
• An Australian-style points-based immigration system
• Investment in science, education, infrastructure and action to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2050
• All without raising the rate of income tax, VAT or National Insurance
Ahead of his final day of campaigning, Mr Johnson said: “Whilst my six pledges to the people start with getting Brexit done, they don’t end there.
“We want to invest in the NHS, crack down on crime, tackle climate change and keep taxes low – our priorities are your priorities.
“But Brexit is the key to unlocking this action – because unless we get out of this quicksand of a Brexit argument, our future as a country remains uncertain.
“Tomorrow at the ballot box you have the opportunity to tell politicians that you want Brexit done.
“We have one more day. Make sure you have your voice heard.”
Mr Corbyn, who will speak at a rally in Middlesbrough, is expected to say: “My message to all those voters who are still undecided is that you can vote for hope in this election.
“It’s time for a pay rise for 12 million people, for lower fares and bills and for free childcare.
“You can vote for a Labour government that will be on your side. A Labour government that will save our NHS.
“It’s time for pension justice for women born in the 1950s, and for free personal care for pensioners. And it’s time for everyone to have free education and decent jobs.
“We will put money in your pocket because you deserve it. The richest and big business will pay for it.
“We will save our NHS by giving it the money it needs, ending privatisation and by not selling it out to Trump.
“And Labour will get Brexit sorted – we will secure a good deal for working people, and give you the final say.”
As both main parties stick rigidly to their core message of the campaign, Labour is claiming five more years of the Tories means:
• Waiting lists reaching 5.8 million by 2024, up from 4.4 million in 2019 and 2.5 million in 2010
• The number of people waiting more than two months for cancer treatment rising to 47,554 in 2024, up from 29,732 on 2018, and up almost 30,000 on 2010
• The number of people waiting more than four hours in A&E reaching 448,525 a month in 2024, up on 320,034 in October 2019 and up 41,231 in November 2010
Mr Ashworth, who Mr Corbyn refused to confirm would become health secretary in a Labour government after his gaffe, said lives would be put at risk under the Conservatives.
“If the Tory demolition of our NHS continues, it will be millions of patients waiting longer and longer in pain, and thousands of cancer sufferers with their lives at risk who will pay the price,” he claimed.
“If the Tories win on Thursday it will mean five more years of ballooning waiting lists, more patients languishing on trolleys in hospital corridors, and people with cancer enduring even longer waits for vital treatment.
“The very future of our NHS is at stake on Thursday. Labour will give the NHS the rescue plan it needs and bring waiting lists down to secure quality care for all.”
The Brexit Election on Sky News – the fastest results and in-depth analysis on mobile, TV and radio.
- Watch John Bercow with Dermot Murnaghan live from 9pm on Thursday
- Follow the Election Social show hosted by Lewis Goodall and BuzzFeed UK’s Emily Ashton on Sky News’ website, app and social media channels from 9.45pm
- See the exit poll live at 10pm
- Watch KayBurley@Breakfast election special on Friday morning