Keir Starmer overtakes Boris Johnson as voters’ choice for PM, poll shows

Tim Wyatt
·2-min read
PA
PA

Sir Keir Starmer is the public’s first choice to be prime minister, a new poll has suggested.

The Labour leader would do a better job at running the country than Boris Johnson, according to a survey by YouGov for The Times.

Thirty-four per cent of those polled said Sir Keir would be the best prime minister, compared to 32 per cent backing the incumbent, Mr Johnson.

This marks the first time since June 2017 that a Labour leader has been the preferred choice for prime minister over the Conservative leader in YouGov’s polling.

Separate surveys by the same pollsters in May found Sir Keir was also narrowly ahead on personal approval ratings, at +23 compared to the prime minister’s +22.

Despite impressing the public in his first months as leader of the opposition, Sir Keir has so far failed to convert his personal popularity into backing for the Labour Party.

When asked who they would vote for if there was an election, the Tories still have a lead: 42 per cent of respondents backed them, compared to 36 per cent for Labour.

That is, however, one percentage point up for Labour and a huge surge compared to the situation after December’s general election.

In January, shortly before Britain finally legally left the European Union and while Jeremy Corbyn was still Labour leader, the Conservatives had a 20-point lead in YouGov polls.

In April, days before Sir Keir became leader of the opposition and approaching the peak of the coronavirus pandemic, the Tory lead over Labour had been stretched to 24 points.

The initial popularity of the government has waned ever since it emerged Mr Johnson’s chief advisor Dominic Cummings had broken lockdown by driving from London to stay with family near Durham.

Daisy Fancourt, from University College London, said polling data showed public confidence in the government noticeably dropped in the days after the Cummings scandal broke.

“What stood out about Cummings was that there was justification, and no regret,” she told The Times. “It looks like it damaged confidence in government. These events do not get forgotten by the public.”

Although Mr Cummings was cleared after a brief investigation by Durham Constabulary, two of the four people who claim they saw him during a second visit up north have now complained to the police watchdog, claiming detectives did not properly explore if the Downing Street aide had broken the law.

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Why isn’t Boris Johnson less popular (and Keir Starmer more so)?