Labour up as former ally’s claims of lying and ineptitude appear to cut through with voters
The prime minister’s net approval rating plunged 12 points to -6 per cent in an Opinium survey conducted after his former special adviser told MPs Mr Johnson was not fit to lead the country.
The same poll put the Tories on 42 per cent, down two points, and Labour on 36 per cent, up five points from the 12-month low of the last survey, which was taken after the latter’s defeat in the Hartlepool by-election.
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer’s net approval rating remains negative at -9 per cent, the same as a fortnight ago.
Matt Hancock, who Mr Cummings said should have been sacked as health secretary over allegedly criminal behaviour and “repeated lying”, was seen to be untrustworthy by the public, with 58 per cent saying they had little to no trust in him.
And 44 per cent said he should resign as health secretary, compared to 30 per cent who said he should stay.
Despite just one-fifth of those surveyed saying they trusted Mr Cummings to tell the truth, many of the claims he made during his seven-hour testimony on Wednesday were believed.
Some 66 per cent said they believed the government had pursued a herd immunity strategy in the early days of the pandemic, with 20 per cent thinking that was false.
Mr Cummings’s claim that the prime minister regarded coronavirus as a scare story and described it as “the new Swine Flu” was believed by 60 per cent, with 26 per cent saying it was false.
Some 56 per cent believed Mr Johnson went on holiday in February 2020 without paying attention to the impending crisis, with 26 per cent saying that was false.
And the claim that Mr Hancock lied about whether people would be tested before being discharged from hospital to care homes was believed by 49 per cent, with 28 per cent saying it was false.
Although a high proportion of the public believed his claims made in front of parliamentary committees, Mr Cummings was thought to be the least trustworthy among big political figures, followed by Mr Hancock, then Mr Johnson. Rishi Sunak, the chancellor, enjoyed the most faith with just under half (48 per cent) saying they trusted him.
The poll also found there had been a dip in public approval of the government’s handling of coronavirus, dropping from a net positive 14 per cent earlier this month, to net 0 per cent. Two-thirds thought the government has acted too slowly in responding to the pandemic.
When it came to the scheduled lifting of restrictions on 21 June, support was at around one-third (34 per cent), with 43 per cent now thinking easing should be postponed.
Adam Drummond, Opinium’s head of political polling, said: “Whilst Dominic Cummings is seen as one of the least trustworthy men in Britain, the public do see some truth in the allegations he made against Boris Johnson’s government, puncturing the Conservatives’ post-Hartlepool bounce and reversing a recent spike in the prime minister’s approval rating.
“However, there are strong reasons to believe that this won’t last though as the underlying approval figures for the vaccine rollout, which has driven voting intention since the beginning of 2021, are unchanged and remain very strong.”
Opinium Research carried out an online survey of 2,004 UK adults from 27-28 May