Labour cuts Tory lead to 9 points

Back in hung parliament territory

The latest Guardian/ICM poll has just been published and shows the Conservatives' lead cut to 9 points, a result that on a uniform swing would leave David Cameron six seats short of a Commons majority. The Tories are down 2 points to 40 per cent, with Labour up 2 points to 31 per cent.

I expected Labour's poll ratings to be hit by the widely derided pre-Budget report, but aside from the ComRes poll at the weekend that gave the Tories a 17-point lead, they seem to have held up. Perhaps the popular bonus supertax has made all the difference.

The fact the polls are still pointing towards a hung parliament will intensify the debate over a 25 March election in Labour circles. As I've argued elsewhere today, Brown should prepare to call an early election.


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George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.

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En français, s'il vous plaît! EU lead negotiator wants to talk Brexit in French

C'est très difficile. 

In November 2015, after the Paris attacks, Theresa May said: "Nous sommes solidaires avec vous, nous sommes tous ensemble." ("We are in solidarity with you, we are all together.")

But now the Prime Minister might have to brush up her French and take it to a much higher level.

Reuters reports the EU's lead Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, would like to hold the talks in French, not English (an EU spokeswoman said no official language had been agreed). 

As for the Home office? Aucun commentaire.

But on Twitter, British social media users are finding it all très amusant.

In the UK, foreign language teaching has suffered from years of neglect. The government may regret this now . . .

Julia Rampen is the editor of The Staggers, The New Statesman's online rolling politics blog. She was previously deputy editor at Mirror Money Online and has worked as a financial journalist for several trade magazines.