Boris Johnson has fallen 13 points behind Keir Starmer on who would make the most capable Prime Minister, according to a new poll released amid allegations that Covid rule-breaking parties were held in Downing Street.
Carried out between December 3rd and 10th – before and as reports of parties in Downing Street emerged – the research found that 44% of people chose Starmer as the most capable PM compared to 31% who opted for Johnson.
For polling company Ipsos MORI, this is the lowest proportion of the public opting for Johnson since he became Prime Minister in July 2019, and the first time a Labour leader has been ahead since Gordon Brown in 2008.
28% of respondents to the survey found Johnson to be doing a satisfactory job, down six points from November, while 45% are dissatisfied, up four points. His net score on this measure is -37, ten points down from last month and the worst recorded during his time in the role.
67% of Conservative voters said they were satisfied with the job that Johnson is doing, while 28% are dissatisfied. Figures on these same questions were 78% and 15%, respectively, as late as August this year.
Satisfaction with Starmer’s performance as Labour leader remains largely unchanged on last month: 28% are satisfied (down one point on November), while 49% are dissatisfied (down one point), giving him a net rating of -21.
Former leaders Jeremy Corbyn and Ed Miliband were on -27 and -13 respectively at this point in their leadership of the party. 44% of Labour supporters told Ipsos MORI they were satisfied and 40% said they were dissatisfied.
According to the pollster, the Conservatives are now five points behind Labour in the public’s voting intention in a general election. 39% reported they would back Labour, 34% the Conservatives, 11% the Lib Dems and 7% the Greens.
Starmer ranked better than Johnson in eight out of 11 questions on specific leadership attributes, having led on three in June, improving five points or more on characteristics including being good in a crisis, showing sound judgement, understanding the problems the country faces and being honest.
The latest polling from Ipsos MORI comes after a week in which the Prime Minister has been accused of dishonesty when denying knowledge of multiple social events in Downing Street in the run-up to Christmas last year.
Johnson claimed during Prime Minister’s Questions last week that no Covid rules were broken, but did not deny that the party had taken place on December 18th. Starmer told MPs that “both of those things can’t be true”.
The Prime Minister was accused of lying after footage emerged of senior Downing Street staffers joking about the alleged party, in which Johnson’s then spokesperson Allegra Stratton joked that it “was not socially distanced”.
The most recent allegations, released by The Mirror on Saturday, involved staff grouping around computers as they conducted a quiz on December 15th, just three days before the party that Stratton was seen joking about.
Johnson can be seen in a leaked image from the event sitting beneath a portrait of Margaret Thatcher as he read out questions between two members of his team, one wearing a Christmas hat and the other draped in tinsel.
London was in Tier 2 restrictions at the time, following the lockdown in November, meaning any social mixing between households was prohibited. Starmer told The Andrew Marr Show that Johnson appears to have broken the law.
Survation has also today reported a drop in support for the Prime Minister. 30% told the research organisation that Johnson would make the best Prime Minister, down 14 points on October, while Starmer saw a seven-point increase to 39%.
Survation recorded that Labour has maintained its lead over the Conservatives at 39%, with the Tories polling at 32%. This is the lowest reported support by the pollster for the governing party since Johnson became Prime Minister over two years ago.
Starmer said on Sunday that the reports have damaged Johnson’s authority to the extent that he cannot “deliver the leadership that this country needs”, and argued that he is “the worst possible leader at the worst possible time”.
The Labour leader called on Conservative MPs earlier this week to removed Johnson from his position. Asked on Sunday whether the Prime Minister should resign, Starmer argued that it is not in his gift to make Johnson step down.
It "looks like he was" breaking the law by taking part in a virtual quiz in Downing Street last December
— BBC Politics (@BBCPolitics) December 12, 2021