British Prime Minister Theresa May is facing a much closer election after the lead held by her governing Conservative Party halved since she set out proposals to reduce financial support for some elderly voters, opinion polls showed.When May called the snap election for June 8, surveys indicated she would win a landslide comparable with Margaret Thatcher's 1983 majority of 144 seats in the 650-seat parliament.
That picture has changed following a week in which both the Conservatives and the main opposition Labour Party set out their election pitches to voters.
May sought to poach traditional Labour supporters with a mix of pledges more radical than those of her predecessor, David Cameron.
One was a proposal to transfer a greater share of the cost of caring for elderly people from taxpayers to those recipients who can afford to pay for their own care.
That raised concerns some might see their houses sold off after their deaths to pay for the care they received rather than passed on to their descendants. May's opponents have dubbed it a "dementia tax", saying it will particularly hit those who need long-term care at home.
May said in a speech on Monday that no one would be forced to sell their home to pay for social care, and she would cap the amount the elderly would have to pay.
A Survation poll published on Monday before her speech showed May's lead over Labour had halved to 9%, adding to a string of polls suggesting the gap was narrowing.
A YouGov poll on Saturday also showed at 9 points, and found 40% of the public were opposed to the change to elderly care provision while 35% were supportive.
The YouGov poll also found 49% opposed May's plan to tighten the criteria for raising the state pension each year, compared to 30% who supported it.
May called the snap election to strengthen her hand in negotiations on Britain's departure from the European Union and win more time to deal with the impact of the divorce. But if she gains less than an impressive majority, her electoral gamble will have failed.
With polls showing the Conservatives' lead over Labour down from 20 points or more earlier in the campaign, May is projected to win a smaller majority of around 40 seats.