Boost for Boris Johnson as poll finds Tories surging into 18-POINT lead over Labour - with support for Nigel Farage's Brexit Party dwindling to just 2 PER CENT

  • New poll has delivered a major boost to Boris Johnson after it gave the Tories an 18 point lead over Labour
  • The Kantar poll put the Conservative Party on 45 per cent - up eight points - with Labour back on 27 per cent
  • Meanwhile, support for Brexit Party squeezed hard with Nigel Farage seeing support drop to two per cent
  • Poll published just hours before Mr Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn squared off for first head-to-head TV debate

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Boris Johnson's hopes of keeping the keys to 10 Downing Street were given a major boost today after a new poll gave the Tories an 18 point lead over the Labour Party. 

A survey conducted by Kantar put the Conservative Party up eight points on 45 per cent - a massive number which if replicated on December 12 would almost guarantee Mr Johnson a majority. 

Meanwhile, Jeremy Corbyn and Labour are trailing far behind and stalled on just 27 per cent after an early election campaign which has been rocked by controversy and internal chaos. 

The Tory surge in the latest opinion poll appears to have been powered by crumbling support for Nigel Farage and the Brexit Party.  

Backing for Mr Farage has plummeted in recent weeks after he announced his decision not to stand candidates in 317 Tory-held seats. 

The Brexit Party is now down seven points to just two per cent, suggesting that the veteran Eurosceptic could struggle to make much of an impact at the ballot box next month.

The poll boost came just hours before Mr Johnson and Mr Corbyn squared off in the first face-to-face TV debate of the election.

However, while the Kantar survey painted a picture of a dominant Conservative Party, a separate poll conducted by YouGov suggested the Tory lead over Labour was not quite so overwhelming. 

The YouGov survey showed the Tories' advantage had come down from 17 points at the end of last week to a still healthy but less stellar 12 points.  

The Kantar poll this evening found the Tories were up eight points on 45 per cent, with Labour trailing far behind and stalled on 27 per cent

Boris Johnson has spent the day campaigning in the north of England ahead of a TV debate with Jeremy Corbyn

Boris Johnson has spent the day campaigning in the north of England ahead of a TV debate with Jeremy Corbyn. Mr Johnson is pictured during a visit to Jimmy Egan's Boxing Academy in Manchester

Mr Johnson spent today campaigning in the north of England with his partner Carrie Symonds ahead of the televised showdown with Mr Corbyn. 

In a sign that he was ready to take the fight to his left-wing opponent, Mr Johnson posed in Jimmy Egan's Boxing Academy in Manchester - with 'Get Brexit Done' written across his boxing gloves.

Meanwhile, Mr Corbyn opted for a more leisurely pre-debate routine, posting pictures of himself visiting a barber for a beard trim.

As he arrived at the venue this evening he said he had braced himself for the face-off by 'eating a Caesar salad' and 'drinking cups of tea'. 

Mr Johnson was expected to use the debate to launch a full-frontal political attack on Mr Corbyn with an ultimatum to stop 'dithering' on his Brexit plans. 

But Mr Corbyn was set to lay out a populist hard-Left platform, after he pledged to spend up to £100billion nationalising chunks of BT to provide free broadband for everyone. 

In fresh evidence that Labour is abandoning the traditional centre ground, shadow chancellor John McDonnell today vowed to target 'obscene' billionaires, force private firms to slash pay for top executives, and oust companies from the London Stock Exchange if they do not meet climate change targets. 

Mr Corbyn posed for photographs with members of the public as he arrived for the debate in Salford tonight

Mr Corbyn posed for photographs with members of the public as he arrived for the debate in Salford tonight

Nigel Farage was trying to keep his spirits up in Peterborough today as he joined Brexit Party candidate Mike Greene on the campaign trail

Nigel Farage was trying to keep his spirits up in Peterborough today as he joined Brexit Party candidate Mike Greene on the campaign trail  

The Prime Minister issued a challenge to his Labour counterpart warning that failure to answer on key points would leave the public with 'no choice but to conclude that Corbyn's Labour, propped up by the SNP, will mean dither, delay and uncertainty'.

In a letter published by the Tories last night he set Mr Corbyn four questions to answer: how he would vote in a second Brexit referendum, what Labour's position on freedom of movement is, how much he would pay the EU for 'market access', and whether all of his MPs would back his Brexit policy. 

Tory sources had said the Prime Minister would use the debate to hammer home his central message that only the Conservatives can be relied upon to deliver Brexit – while also raising concerns about Labour's opposition to immigration  controls.

But Mr McDonnell made clear that Labour was also spoiling for a fight, declaring war on the wealthy and business in a speech in London this morning.

He vowed to target 'obscene' billionaires, force private firms to slash pay for top executives, and oust companies from the London Stock Exchange if they do not meet climate change targets.

In a fresh lurch to the Left, the shadow chancellor said it was 'obscene' that people could become billionaires, saying 'no-one deserves to have that kind of money'.

The veteran socialist said bosses at firms with public sector contracts should not be paid more than around £350,000.

He hailed Labour's proposals to force medium-sized firms to give 10 per cent of their shares to workers, and bolster union power by having a third of their board made up of staff. Companies who fail to meet objectives to tackle climate change also faced being 'delisted' from the stock exchange.

And Mr McDonnell vowed to neuter the 'Big Four' accountancy companies, saying he would create a new state-backed auditor to stop them behaving like a 'cartel'. 

Labour declares war on wealthy in fresh lurch to the hard-Left 

John McDonnell declared war on the wealthy and business tonight as he vowed to target 'obscene' billionaires, force private firms to slash pay for top executives, and oust companies from the London Stock Exchange if they do not meet climate change targets.

In a fresh lurch to the Left, the shadow chancellor said it was 'obscene' that people could become billionaires, saying 'no-one deserves to have that kind of money'.

The veteran socialist said bosses at firms with public sector contracts should not be paid more than around £350,000.

He hailed Labour's proposals to force medium-sized firms to give 10 per cent of their shares to workers, and bolster union power by having a third of their board made up of staff. Companies who fail to meet objectives to tackle climate change also faced being 'delisted' from the stock exchange.

And Mr McDonnell vowed to neuter the 'Big Four' accountancy companies, saying he would create a new state-backed auditor to stop them behaving like a 'cartel'. 

The assault on corporate governance provoked alarm among business groups, who warned that Labour risks 'throwing the baby out with the bathwater' and trying to manage the economy 'by diktat'. 

The assault on corporate governance provoked alarm among business groups, who warned that Labour risks 'throwing the baby out with the bathwater' and trying to manage the economy 'by diktat'. 

The extraordinary platform is more evidence that Labour is gearing up to unveil a much more dramatic manifesto on Thursday than their offering two years ago.

Last week Mr Corbyn pledged to nationalise huge chunks of BT and offer free broadband to every household - despite warnings it would cost £100billion and require the state to take control of huge swathes of other businesses such as Virgin Media, TalkTalk and Sky.  

Tonight's ITV debate from Salford was the first time the two largest party leaders have squared off on live television in an election debate. 

Mr Johnson headed for the North West this morning, being pictured at Euston station with partner Ms Symonds. 

Previous debates featured a wider array of leaders, but Theresa May refused to take part ahead of the 2017 election where she lost the Tory majority. 

One ally of the PM acknowledged that it was a 'risk' to take on an opponent who is lagging far behind in the polls.  

'Corbyn has nothing to lose,' the source said. 'I'll be sleeping a lot easier once it's over.'

The Liberal Democrats and SNP yesterday lost a High Court challenge to have Jo Swinson and Nicola Sturgeon included in the debate. The two parties claimed ITV's decision was unlawful because it breached impartiality rules. Lawyers for the Lib Dems claimed that with Labour sitting on the fence on Brexit, 'the voice of Remain has been excluded' from the debate.

But two judges ruled that the decision was not open to challenge in the courts and that the parties' only recourse was to complain to Ofcom. 

Boris Johnson with partner Carrie Symonds prepare to board a train to Manchester for the debate this morning

Boris Johnson with partner Carrie Symonds prepare to board a train to Manchester for the debate this morning

Meanwhile, Mr Corbyn opted for a more leisurely pre-debate routine, visiting a barber for a beard trim before he appears in front of the cameras

Meanwhile, Mr Corbyn opted for a more leisurely pre-debate routine, visiting a barber for a beard trim before he appears in front of the cameras

Boost for Boris Johnson as poll finds Tories surging into 18-POINT

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