Britain’s dead-heat election ‘down to the wire’ on polling day

Britain’s dead-heat election ‘down to the wire’ on polling day

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Britons went to vote on Thursday in the tightest election for decades; one that could cause government gridlock, push the world’s fifth-largest economy closer to leaving the European Union and stoke a second attempt by Scotland to break away.Final opinion polls showed Prime Minister David Cameron’s Conservatives and Ed Miliband’s opposition Labour Party almost in a dead heat, indicating neither will win enough seats for an outright majority in the 650-seat parliament.“This race is going to be the closest we have ever seen,” Miliband told supporters in Pendle, northern England, on the eve of the vote. “It is going to go down to the wire.”Cameron said only his Conservatives could deliver strong, stable government: “All other options will end in chaos.”The Conservatives portray themselves as the party of jobs and economic recovery, promising to reduce income tax for 30 million people while forcing through further spending cuts to eliminate a budget deficit still running at 5 percent of GDP.Labour says it would cut the deficit each year, raise income tax for the highest 1 percent of earners and defend the interests of hard-pressed working families and Britain’s treasured but financially stretched National Health Service.”I think Labour is best for the good of the whole country. The Conservatives have cut spending too much,” said student Abi Samuel at a polling station in Edinburgh’s well-heeled New Town.Retiree Robert McCairley said it had been a messy campaign.”What disappoints me is that there was too much on the National Health Service, hospitals and schools but not enough on the deficit – no one showed us the figures,” he said.If neither party wins an overall majority, talks will begin on Friday with smaller parties in a race to strike deals.That could lead to a formal coalition, like the one Cameron has led for the past five years with the centrist Liberal Democrats, or it could produce a fragile minority government making trade-offs to guarantee support on key votes.
British top share index fell to a near one-month low althoughelection jitters failed to translate into any significant sell-off. The two main parties have been neck-and-neck in opinion polls for months.The pound was slightly weaker but the short-term cost of protection against swings in the pound jumped to multi-year highs.”What is important to us is clarity as soon as possible,” Andrew Witty, chief executive of GlaxoSmithKline, Britain’s sixth-largest company by market value, told reporters.

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