Britain's opposition Conservatives have extended their lead over Prime Minister Gordon Brown's Labour party to 17 per centage points, according to an opinion poll published on Sunday.
The Conservatives drew 42 per cent of the vote amongst those polled against Labour's 25 per cent, extending the lead from 16 points last month, although down from a 19-point gap last year, according to the YouGov poll in the Sunday Times.
The poll of nearly 2,000 people underlines the likelihood that the Conservatives under David Cameron will win the next election, driving Labour from government after more than 12 years in power, if current voting intentions continue.
The next parliamentary election has to be held by June 2010.
Brown is expected to wait as long as possible before calling the election, hoping to give himself and his party a chance to claw back if the economy turns around and sentiment improves.
The poll also revealed voter dissatisfaction over the government's policy on Afghanistan, where Britain has more than 9,000 troops serving as part of a NATO- and US-led coalition.
This month, 16 British troops have died as they have stepped up an offensive against the Taliban. The total death toll -- 185 -- now exceeds that in Iraq, from where Britain has withdrawn its troops.
The poll showed 60 per cent of people thought Brown was fighting the war "on the cheap", following criticism that the government was not doing enough to supply frontline troops with helicopters and armoured vehicles.
Twenty-four per cent of those polled described the campaign as a worthwhile objective that was worth risking British lives for, while 48 per cent said it was a worthwhile objective but not worth risking British lives for.
But only 21 per cent said Britain should withdraw its forces right away, no matter what other countries might do, down from 26 per cent who felt that way in the last poll in March.