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School of Politics and International Relations

Professor Philip Cowley, One year on, memories of the bombshell exit poll that spelt disaster for Theresa May


Philip Cowley, Professor of Politics at Queen Mary, was featured in an article in the i reflecting, one year later, on his experience of when Theresa May lost her big election gamble. Professor Cowley, who had analysed the results overnight on Radio 4, had believed a Conservative majority of between 40 and 60 was the most likely outcome. Three hours after the exit poll, he discarded all his briefing notes because something extraordinary was happening. “It was the moment you realised the ground had completely shifted,” he said. “The electoral politics of Britain were going to be fundamentally different from that moment.” He said the seven-week campaign – beginning with predictions of a landslide Tory victory – running up to election day had “changed the nature of politics”.
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