LONDON (Reuters) - British Prime Minister David Cameron's Conservative party took the lead in an opinion poll for the first time in more than two years on Monday, overtaking the opposition Labour party ahead of next year's national election.
The poll, which was carried out last week, put Conservative support at 34 percent, 2 percentage points ahead of Labour who have enjoyed a lead of up to 10 percentage points since March 2012, the last time the Conservatives topped a similar poll.
Monday's survey, based on a phone poll of 1,001 adults, was funded by Michael Ashcroft, a Conservative peer and a former deputy chairman of Cameron's party. A long-time funder of such polls, he said in a statement that his polling was apolitical and pointed out "uncomfortable truths" to all parties.
The poll comes at a time when the British economy has exited a prolonged recession and begun to grow at a clip which means it is likely to expand faster than any other Group of Seven economy this year.
The last time the Conservatives enjoyed a lead in a national opinion poll was in a March 2012 Guardian/ICM survey which put them on 39 percent against Labour's 36 percent.
The outlook for Cameron's Conservatives in elections to the European Parliament later this month is less bright with opinion polls showing it will be beaten into third place behind Labour and the anti-EU UK Independence Party (UKIP).
(Reporting by William James and Andrew Osborn; Editing by Andrew Osborn)