LONDON (Reuters) - Labour closed the gap on the Conservatives in two opinion polls at the end of a week in which the country crawled out of recession.
The opinion polls, published in the Saturday editions of the Daily Telegraph and Daily Mirror, hinted at a hung parliament, where no single party has overall control.
The Ipsos MORI poll for the Daily Mirror put the Conservatives on 40 percent support, down three points on last month, while Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s Labour Party was on 32 percent, up six points. The country’s third-biggest political party the Liberal Democrats were on 16 percent.
In the Daily Telegraph’s YouGov survey, the gap was narrower. The Conservatives were on 38 percent, down two points on last month, with Labour on 31 percent, up one point. The Lib Dems were on 19, up two.
If translated into an election result, the Conservatives would fail to win an overall majority but would be the largest party in parliament.
Such an outcome, the first since the 1970s, would result in jittery markets, fearful that a hung parliament would not be able to take decisive action to tackle Britain’s record deficit.
The election, which must be held before June, will be on May 6, the Daily Telegraph said senior Labour sources had confirmed. That date had been widely rumoured after a series of ministers inadvertently let it slip during interviews.
This week Britain emerged from the longest and deepest recession in decades, although the recovery remained weak with gross domestic product rising by only 0.1 percent in the final quarter of 2009, initial figures showed.
The Telegraph speculated the Conservatives may have been punished after party leader David Cameron last month failed to give assurances he would allow a tax break for married couples in a policy mix-up.
Reporting by Avril Ormsby; Editing by Janet Lawrence