Boris Johnson's poll ratings continue to fall amid COVID-19 backlash

Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks outside 10 Downing Street after recovering from the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), London, Britain, April 27, 2020. REUTERS/John Sibley     TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Boris Johnson's approval ratings are continuing to be hit amid the coronavirus crisis. (Picture: REUTERS/John Sibley)

Boris Johnson’s poll ratings have continued to fall amid a backlash to his handling of the coronavirus crisis.

The latest Ipsos MORI political pulse records a net drop of four percentage points in favourability for the Prime Minister, while Labour leader Keir Starmer has seen his own favourability rise.

The poll, which interviewed 1,291 British adults online from May 29 to June 3, shows that 39% of people are now favourable to Johnson, compared to 43% who are unfavourable.

Last month 45% had a positive opinion of Johnson and 38% saw viewed him negatively - making this the first time more Britons have been unfavourable towards the PM than favourable since the beginning of March.

According to the poll by Ipsos Mori, Boris Johnson's net favourability has dropped by 4 points. (Picture: Ipsos Mori)
According to the poll by Ipsos Mori, Boris Johnson's net favourability has dropped by 4 points. (Picture: Ipsos Mori)

Johnson has come under fire for his handling of the coronavirus crisis, including the row over Dominic Cummings, after it emerged he drove 260 miles in order to stay in Durham during the lockdown. Cummings also made a separate 60-mile round trip to Barnard Castle, which police said “might have” breached the rules.

Johnson was also criticised – particularly by teaching unions – over his easing of the lockdown on Monday, which saw some Reception, Year 1 and Year 6 pupils return to schools. Unions had argued it was unsafe.

On Wednesday, Johnson declared himself “very proud” of the government’s record during the COVID-19 outbreak. The UK has the second highest death toll in the world.

Meanwhile, the government has also struggled with some of its major coronavirus initiatives, including the NHS Test and Trace system which was hit by technical issues upon its launch last week. Staff – some on nearly £20 an hour – also said they had nothing to do during entire shifts.

The fall in the PM’s ratings reflects a fall in ratings for the Conservative Party in general, which has seen the percentage of people who have an unfavourable opinion of the party rise from 39% in May to 44% now.

In terms of ‘‘net favourability’, the Conservative figure of -11 is identical to that seen just after last December’s General Election, said Ipsos MORI, but Labour’s figure of -8 is significantly improved from -27.

Ipsos MORI Research Director Keiran Pedley said: “Boris Johnson’s favourability ratings continue to fall from their April peak, and it is noteworthy that more Britons are now unfavourable towards the Prime Minister than favourable.

“The data shows that Johnson is a polarising figure whilst Starmer continues to be a relative unknown – although that is changing.

“Labour will be encouraged that Starmer’s ratings continue to be net positive as he becomes better known and that Labour is no longer looked upon less favourably by the public than the Conservatives.

“However, with Labour yet to lead the Conservatives in voting intention polls it is still a long way back to power for the party.”

The poll also found that more Britons believe the country is heading in the wrong direction rather than right — 43% feel this way while only 30% think we are on the right track.

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