PMQs: Keir Starmer asks Boris Johnson if he will resign
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Despite winning the biggest majority in a General Election in more than 50 years, Prime Minister Boris Johnson no longer enjoys widespread public support. Months of accusations of Tory sleaze and lockdown rule-breaking culminated in the release of damning initial findings from the Sue Gray inquiry, with Labour calling for the Prime Minister’s immediate resignation.
The Sue Gray report blamed a “failure of leadership” for allowing a string of parties to take place in Downing Street when the country was under strict lockdown rules.
Mr Johnson said he accepted the findings in full, but has vowed to fight on, promising a shake-up of the way Downing Street is run.
But while the nation awaits the full report once the police investigation is complete — Ms Gray said she was “extremely limited” in how much she could publish at this stage — public support continues to wane for the Prime Minister.
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said Mr Johnson should “do the decent thing and resign” but he is “a man without shame”, so would not.
A snap poll undertaken by YouGov shortly after the report showed 63 percent of Britons believe the Prime Minister should resign, with just 25 percent agreeing he should stay on.
These numbers are fairly consistent with the public mood throughout January — the same question on January 25 saw 62 percent of people believing Mr Johnson should step down.
This stable trend, while not showing a dramatic spike in anger from the public caused by the Sue Gray report, could prove even more worrying for the Prime Minister as public disapproval appears embedded in society.
A more widespread survey undertaken by YouGov in January shows the public now generally believes the current Labour Party would be better placed at handling key issues than the current Conservative Government.
Each month, YouGov asks the British public whether a Conservative or Labour government would be best at managing a range of important policy issues, including ‘the economy’, ‘jobs’ and ‘prices’, among others.
Across the board, Labour support is increasing within the general public.
Across all six categories — managing the economy, tackling the deficit, reducing poverty, helping people buy a home, keeping prices down, improving standards of living and providing more jobs — Labour is up, and the Tories are down.
For example, in May 2021, the Conservatives held a hefty 24-point lead over Labour on managing the economy.
In January 2022, however, that lead has dropped to just six points.
And on subjects like keeping prices down, as the nation heads into a cost of living crisis, Labour has overtaken the Conservatives with a nine-point lead.
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Alarmingly for the Conservatives, Labour how holds a five-point lead on public opinion regarding the ability to provide more jobs, a cornerstone in Tory manifesto and Brexit pledges.
YouGov Research Manager Patrick English said: “The figures in our trackers…are an early warning system, in exactly the same way that public frustration with handling of prices back in the summer of last year was a precursor for the coming political storm of the cost of living crisis.
“If Labour continue to build leads with the public regarding their management of key policy issues, then significant improvements in public perceptions on their readiness to govern will likely soon follow.”
Speaking to the BBC on Tuesday, Sir Keir said the Prime Minister had become distracted from the big issues by trying to save his premiership.
He said: “So many people are worried about issues such as their energy bills, which are going through the roof, and the Prime Minister is spending all of his time saving his own skin.
“We now know that he had a meeting planned with the Chancellor last week to discuss energy bills, but that was cancelled because he was having meetings to save his own job.”
However, Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab insisted Mr Johnson was “getting on with the job”, despite the ongoing investigation by the police.
He said: “[The Prime Minister] recognised that, as Sue Gray said, the standards expected in No 10 were not as they should have been.
“He said he did take responsibility and he apologised, and he provided a plan of action.
“But if you look at the big judgement calls…the Prime Minister has got these right. This Government has got a plan.”
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