Business Insider Edition

Boris Johnson is tumbling in the polls after ignoring voters to sack Cummings

Adam Payne , Business Insider US
 May 28, 2020, 09:07 AM
Leon Neal/Getty Images
  • Boris Johnson has taken a major hit in the opinion polls amid his refusal to sack Dominic Cummings.
  • The Conservative party's lead over Labour collapsed by 9% within a week, YouGov found.
  • YouGov and fellow pollster JL Partners found that the vast majority of people believed Cummings broke the UK's lockdown rules when he drove 260 miles from London to Durham.
  • Johnson will be grilled on the saga on Wednesday when he faces the Liaison Committee of senior MPs.
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The British public is quickly turning on Boris Johnson as the UK prime minister refuses to sack chief adviser Dominic Cummings for breaking the coronavirus lockdown during a 260-mile trip from London to Durham.

A new YouGov poll for The Times of London newspaper found that Johnson's Conservative party's lead over Keir Starmer's Labour Party fell by 9% from 15% to 6% in the space of a single week.

This is the sharpest fall in support for Conservatives since the party was led by David Cameron a decade ago in 2010.

The YouGov poll released today put the Conservatives on 44%, and Labour in second place with 38%.

A Separate Savanta Comres poll on Tuesday found that Boris Johnson's approval rating had dropped to -1% having previously been at +25% a fortnight ago.

Overall government approval was at -2%, dropping 16 points in a single day.

The fall in support for Johnson's government came after Cummings insisted that he did not break lockdown rules and in an extraordinary press conference on Monday afternoon said he did not regret leaving his home in north London while he and his wife had coronavirus symptoms.

He is also facing intense scrutiny for a 30-mile drive from Durham to a popular tourist spot called Barnard Castle in the northeast of England. Cummings says he made this trip to test his eyesight.

However, his explanation has failed to convince the British public, polls suggest.

The YouGov poll published by The Times of London newspaper found that 71% of Brits believe Cummings broke the UK government's "stay at home" lockdown rules, with just 20% saying he did not.

A JL Partners poll for The Daily Mail newspaper, also published today, found that 80% believe Cummings broke the lockdown rules. Just 9% said he did not. 66% of people believe Cummings should resign, the same poll found.

"This is the most consistently one-sided political topic I have ever ran a poll on. I expected nuance, there was no nuanced," James Johnson from JL Partners said.

"Public completely united in their views."

Prime Minister Johnson is refusing to sack Cummings, his most senior and trusted adviser. Senior ministers in his Cabinet have spent the last few days defending Cummings in at times bruising media interviews.

39 Conservative Members of Parliament had publicly called on Cummings to resign as of Wednesday morning.

This list includes senior MPs like former chief whip Mark Harper, committee chair Damian Collins, ex-immigration minister Caroline Nokes, and as Business Insider revealed, former government minister Stephen Hammond.

Douglas Ross on Tuesday dramatically resigned as a Scotland minister in Johnson's goverment, saying: "I have constituents who didn't get to say goodbye to loved ones; families who could not mourn together; people who didn't visit sick relatives because they followed the guidance of the Government.

"I cannot in good faith tell them they were all wrong and one senior adviser to the government was right."

Twitter/Daily Mail
Some of Britain's major newspapers tore into Cummings on Tuesday morning. This included The Daily Mail, which is famous for its support of the Conservative party.

Johnson will face more scrutiny on Wednesday afternoon when he makes his first appearance before the Liaison Committee of some of Parliament's most senior MPs.

The super committee, made up of chairs of the other House of Commons committee, is set to grill the prime minister on the Cummings affair, as well as the UK government's response to the COVID-19 outbreak in the UK.

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