Voters head to the polls for the U.K.’s general election as Kier Starmer’s Labour on course for a historic victory

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Voters head to the polls for the UK general election after the last campaign day was dominated by more opinion polls projecting an historic victory for Keir Starmer and even Rupert Murdoch’s Sun newspaper endorsing the opposition Labour Party rather than Rishi Sunak’s Conservatives.

“Today, Britain can begin a new chapter,” Starmer said in his last message before polling stations open at 7 a.m. on Thursday. He pledged “a new age of hope and opportunity after 14 years of chaos and decline,” in remarks provided by his office, which it said were meant to encourage people to turn out and not assume Labour had won. “Change will only happen if you vote for it.”

Sunak made one more appeal to typically Conservative-minded voters who’ve become disaffected during his administration, urging them to vote Tory to stop Labour having “unchecked power.” His strategy has pivoted in the final weeks of the campaign to an effective concession that his party is going to lose.

Anything other than a Labour landslide victory would be a major shock. Bloomberg’s final polling composite, a rolling 14-day average using data from 11 polling companies, gave Starmer’s party a 20-point lead over the Tories.

On Wednesday, three more so-called MRP polls projected a huge win for Labour. YouGov modeling showed Labour winning 431 seats for a parliamentary majority of 212. Focaldata had a 238-seat majority, while More In Common projected 210. If any of those scenarios play out in the election, it would exceed Tony Blair’s 1997 Labour landslide and represent a stunning loss for the Tories.

There was no respite for Sunak in the final hours of the campaign as the Sun newspaper endorsed Starmer and Labour, a dramatic move in the British media landscape that illustrates the country’s shifting political sands.

“It is time for a change,” The Sun said in an editorial published on the tabloid’s website. “It is time for Labour.”

The paper, which backed Blair in 1997 but has endorsed the Tories since 2010, delivered a damning verdict on Sunak’s party after 14 years in power.

“They have become a divided rabble, more interested in fighting themselves than running the country,” it said. “Illegal and legal immigration have not been kept under control. Taxes have ballooned to the highest level since World War Two. Plotting against the leadership has been endless. Sleaze scandals — most recently gambling on the timing of the election — have broken public trust.”

The endorsement of Labour will be seen as an opportunist move given the polling, and the newspaper notably didn’t include an image of Starmer. Nevertheless, it is an eyebrow-raising move given Starmer was the chief prosecutor of England and Wales ahead of the 2014 trial of Murdoch’s newspaper staff who were accused of hacking the phones of politicians and celebrities.

“I’m delighted to have the support and backing of the Sun,” Starmer told broadcasters at a campaign rally in Scotland. “It shows how much this is a changed Labour Party, back in the service of working people.”

The Sun drew parallels between Blair and Starmer. “By dragging his party back to the center ground of British politics for the first time since Tony Blair was in No. 10, Sir Keir has won the right to take charge,” it said.

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