Johnson suffers sharp poll fall after Cummings scandal

LONDON (AFP) – British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s public support has suffered the sharpest fall for a Conservative party leader in a decade following the Dominic Cummings scandal, according to an opinion poll published yesterday.

As the Prime Minister prepared to be quizzed by senior MPs yesterday over his handling of the coronavirus crisis and the scandal, a YouGov poll for The Times newspaper showed the Conservative lead over the main opposition Labour party has been cut by nine points in a week.

The survey put the Tories on 44 per cent – down four points – and Labour on 38 per cent, up five points over the past seven days.

The last Tory leader to see his lead fall by the same amount was David Cameron during the 2010 general election campaign.

A poll in the Daily Mail newspaper showed Johnson’s approval rating had plummeted from 19 per cent to minus one per cent in just a few days – despite leading his party to a comprehensive general election victory just six months ago.

File photo shows Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson arriving for a general election campaign visit to Diageo’s Roseisle Distillery in Scotland last year. PHOTO: AFP

It adds to a sense of growing revolt over the government’s handling of Cummings, with nearly 40 Tory MPs demanding he lose his job, while one minister has quit in protest.

However, Cabinet minister Robert Jenrick, the housing, communities and local government secretary, backed the PM’s top adviser yesterday.

“I think, is the time for us all to move on,” he told the BBC, adding that Cummings had not broken any government guidelines.

Cummings drove his wife and young son on a 425-kilometre trip from London to Durham, northeast England, in late March during the height of the coronavirus crisis.

He later admitted taking a 60-mile round trip to a local beauty spot, to test his eyesight.

Britain is one of the worst-hit countries by the pandemic, with more than 46,000 deaths attributed to COVID-19 by mid-May, according to official statistics released on Tuesday.

Johnson’s government, whose less comprehensive tally is updated daily, has counted 37,048 fatalities.