Conservatives experience ‘Boris bounce’ in latest UK polls

New PM Boris Johnson delivers two-point lead for his party over main Labour opposition

Prime Minister Boris Johnson during a speech on domestic priorities in Manchester, England. The PM is already proving to be popular among some voters. Getty Images
Prime Minister Boris Johnson during a speech on domestic priorities in Manchester, England. The PM is already proving to be popular among some voters. Getty Images

Britain’s ruling Conservative Party has experienced a so-called Boris bounce this week on the back of Boris Johnson becoming the country’s new prime minister.

Mr Johnson’s appointment appears to have boosted the party, giving them a two-point lead over the opposition Labour Party.

His leadership style appears to be winning over parts of the British public, with 38 per cent of respondents polled by Opinium believing that Mr Johnson had strong leadership credentials, compared to just 17 per cent for Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.

While the thorny issue of Brexit is his biggest challenge in the coming months ahead of the October 31 deadline, Mr Johnson has this week focused on domestic issues in what appears to be a strategic targeting of Labour heartlands in the north of England.

Britain’s prime minister travelled to Manchester on Saturday alongside the new Home Secretary Priti Patel outlining a vision to boost rail infrastructure in northern England. Critics called Mr Johnson’s plans a rehashing of previous Conservative proposals under former prime minister David Cameron.

Mr Johnson has been busy in his first few days in office after being sworn in on Wednesday.

More than half of Theresa May’s Cabinet were swept aside as Mr Johnson awarded top jobs to close allies who voted to leave the EU in 2016.

Former home secretary Sajid Javid was appointed finance minister, while former Brexit secretary Dominic Raab – a vocal critic of Mrs May’s EU Withdrawal Bill – replaced Jeremy Hunt as foreign secretary.

Ms Patel’s appointment as home secretary raised eyebrows after she had been sacked for holding secret talks with Israeli officials in 2017 and failing to tell the Foreign Office she discussed official business on what was declared a private holiday.

On his first day in office, Mr Johnson accused Labour leader Mr Corbyn of siding with Iranian hardliners rather than Britain’s allies over the Gulf crisis.

Appearing in parliament for the first time since becoming prime minister on Thursday, Mr Johnson was asked by Mr Corbyn if Gulf tension and attempts to release detained British-Iranian charity worker Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe would top his agenda.

Mr Johnson has increased the rhetoric about a no-deal Brexit, in which UK would fall straight into default World Trade Organisation tariffs against the EU, with physical checks imposed at borders on all imports and exports.

Opponents of a no-deal Brexit fear that it could endanger the flow of medical supplies, fresh food and water between the UK and Europe.

The politician responsible for contingency plans admitted on Sunday that Britain is now working on the assumption that it will leave without a deal.

“No deal is now a very real prospect," Michael Gove told The Sunday Times newspaper.

Mr Gove has been ordered to chair meetings seven days a week to lead no-deal planning, according to the newspaper.

“While we are optimistic about the future, we are realistic about the need to plan for every eventuality,” he said.

A no-deal Brexit could see a return to a hard border between Northern Ireland, part of the United Kingdom, and the Republic of Ireland, an EU member state.

Such a scenario would contravene the 1998 Good Friday Agreement that brought peace to Northern Ireland after decades of a heavy UK military presence and sectarian violence.

Updated: July 28, 2019 07:57 PM

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