Sir Keir Starmer the most popular opposition leader since Tony Blair, poll finds

Alan McGuinness, political reporter
·2-min read

Sir Keir Starmer is the most popular leader of the opposition since Tony Blair, according to a new poll.

Two months into the role, the new Labour leader is matching the performance of Mr Blair in the 1990s, the data from Ipsos Mori found.

Mr Blair became leader of the opposition in 1994 and went on to win a landslide victory in the 1997 general election.

He recorded two further electoral successes as PM, in 2001 and 2005, before stepping down in 2007.

But whilst the poll will be encouraging for Labour, Boris Johnson is still viewed as a more capable leader of the country than Sir Keir, by 43% to 38%.

The Conservatives also maintain a slight leader over Labour.

But the gap between the parties has narrowed in recent months, according to the research.

The Tories are on 43% - down nine points since March, while Labour is on 38% (up eight).

Meanwhile, the Liberal Democrats are on 10% (up one).

The study of 1,059 adults was carried out between 5 and 10 June.

It found that Sir Keir, who replaced Jeremy Corbyn as leader in April, has a net satisfaction score of 31%.

This matches the best score registered by Mr Blair in December 1994.

The study suggests that the public are divided over how well ministers have handled the coronavirus pandemic.

A total of 40% of those polled believe the government's response has gone well, while 44% think the outbreak has been managed badly.

When it comes to Mr Johnson, 47% are satisfied with the way the PM is doing his job, with 49% dissatisfied.

Commenting on the findings, Gideon Skinner, head of political research at Ipsos Mori, said: "Labour will of course be encouraged that Keir Starmer is achieving comparable leader satisfaction ratings to Tony Blair and David Cameron when they led the opposition, as both went on to become general election winners.

"However this is still very early days - it's not unusual to see a honeymoon period for a new leader.

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"And there is an important difference, Boris Johnson is still more popular than John Major and Gordon Brown were when Blair and Cameron achieved their best scores.

"With concerns about the economy and the coronavirus high, how the two leaders handle these over the next few months will be crucial."