Britain’s government came under fire for cutting police budgets as election campaigning resumed on Friday, which was suspended following the suicide bombing in Manchester city on Monday.
Opposition Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said it was the “responsibility” of governments to minimise the risk of terror by giving police the funding they need after cuts made while Conservative Prime Minister Theresa May served as interior minister.
May and Corbyn had suspended campaigning for a snap June 8 election after the suicide bombing at a Manchester pop concert, which killed 22 people, including children and teenagers, and wounded dozens more.
The issue of security, which was not widely discussed in the general election campaign before the attack, is now expected to feature highly.
A YouGov poll published in today’s edition of The Times put the Conservatives on 43 percent compared to Labour on 38 per cent, far better for Labour than the double-digit margin that had previously separated it from the ruling party.
However, the poll also suggested that 41 per cent of respondents believe the Conservatives would handle defence and security best, compared to 18 per cent who said the same of Labour.
YouGov polled 2,052 people on Wednesday and Thursday.
At the launch of the UK Independence Party’s manifesto on Thursday, deputy leader Suzanne Evans said May “must bear some responsibility” for the terror attack in Manchester this week due to policing budget cuts.
The number of police officers fell by 14 per cent, or almost 20,000, between 2009 and 2016, according to the independent Institute for Fiscal Studies think tank.
The Conservatives have been in power since 2010, but Home Secretary Amber Rudd on Thursday said cuts could not be blamed for Monday’s attack.
“I have asked the head of counter-terrorism whether this is about resources. It is not,” she said.