Boris Johnson poll slump as Labour levels with Tories for first time since 2019

Labour has drawn level with the Tories for the first time since last year in a big blow to Boris Johnson.

The embattled Prime Minister has overseen a chaotic coronavirus pandemic response, with focus most recently on the farcical U-turn over A-level exam results.

Only last week, the government reversed its advice to secondary school pupils on face masks.

And on Friday night, fresh advice to schools on coronavirus safety, including “rotas”, was published just days before kids return, sparking an outcry from teachers.

Earlier in the crisis, the government struggled with high death rates, accusations lockdown was brought in too late, PPE shortages, low testing capacity, questions over protection for care home residents, and the fallout from Dominic Cummings ‘ controversial trip to County Durham during lockdown.

Labour’s polling has improved since the election of Keir Starmer as leader

Now, a snapshot survey by Opinium shows Labour and the Tories are both on 40% in terms of voting intention at a hypothetical general election held now.

It marks the first time the Conservatives have not been ahead of Labour in an Opinium survey for 13 months.

Nearly half of voters, 47%, disapprove of the Government’s handling of coronavirus, compared to less than a third, 31%, who approve, according to the poll.

The government enjoyed leads of more than 20 points in March and April, as Labour reeled from December’s crushing election defeat.

But the party has steadily closed the gap on the Conservatives in the polls since Keir Starmer was elected leader.

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Charles Walker, vice-chair of the influential 1922 committee of Conservative backbenchers, told the Observer a recent  string of U-turns  had left many colleagues in despair, with some struggling to defend their government to constituents.

Mr Walker said: “Too often it looks like this government licks its finger and sticks it in the air to see which way the wind is blowing. This is not a sustainable way to approach the business of governing and government.

“It is becoming increasingly difficult for backbenchers now to promote and defend government policy as so often that policy is changed or abandoned without notice. Whether this approach is by design or by accident, the climate of uncertainty it creates is unsustainable and erodes morale.”

In separate polling, with English schools reopening next week, 63% of parents with school age children say it is safe for primary schools to do so.

And 60% back pupils returning to secondary schools.

But pupils aged 14-15 appear most concerned about returning to class as 45% of parents with children in this age group say their child is worried, against to 48% who say they are not.

The government has suffered over the chaotic handling of exam results and schools returning

More than half of adults surveyed, 52%, support making face masks compulsory for children in school, with 22% neither supporting nor opposing, and 19% against such a move.

When it comes to the parents of school age children, 42% back the idea, and 22% oppose it.

The survey has bad news for beleaguered Education Secretary Gavin Williamson as 48% disapprove of the way he is handling his job, and 40% say he is most responsible for the recent exam results controversy.

Opinium carried out an online survey of 2,002 UK adults between August 26-28.


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