Polling results suggest sleaze row hitting UK Conservatives' support

Majority of voters think the Tory party is 'very sleazy'

Voters are shifting support away from the Tories, while two thirds consider the governing party “very sleazy” amid a flurry of negative headlines, polling has found.

A poll by Savanta ComRes put Labour six points ahead of the Conservatives in a sign that recent revelations about MPs' second jobs and the handling of the Owen Paterson affair could hurt Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s party at the ballot box.

The results, in which the Tories dropped four points and Labour climbed five since a similar poll a week ago, are based on a survey of more than 2,000 people in the UK, conducted on Thursday and Friday.

YouGov polling published on Friday and carried out last week also suggested the Tories had lost their lead, with its findings putting Mr Johnson and Sir Keir Starmer’s Labour Party neck and neck on 35 per cent of the vote share.

The polling found two thirds of voters viewed the Tories as “very sleazy” following Mr Paterson’s resignation and MP second jobs and homes revelations.

A separate survey by Redfield & Wilton Strategies on Wednesday put Labour two points ahead of the Tories.

The findings came after the government attempted to rip up the current Commons standards system to delay former Tory Cabinet minister Mr Paterson’s suspension for breaking lobbying rules, and revelations former attorney general Sir Geoffrey Cox voted by proxy while offering legal services in the Caribbean.

Speaking before the Savanta ComRes’ results were published, Mr Johnson had rejected suggestions the sleaze allegations being levelled at his party could be reflected at the ballot box in coming by-elections.

Mr Johnson visited Sidcup on Friday afternoon, where voters will elect a new MP in December after the death of former security minister James Brokenshire last month.

The Conservative leader insisted the strength of the local candidate in the Old Bexley and Sidcup constituency meant voters would back the Tories in the December 2 race.

But Mr Johnson said he did not “underestimate the vital importance” of MPs refraining from engaging in paid advocacy.

A Tory MP from the 2019 in-take said he thought the sleaze row, which he admitted had divided his party, had provided Labour with an opportunity to gain ground.

“The left are not in government, they want to be in government, and they’re looking for weakness," James Sunderland, MP for Bracknell, told the PA.

“And I think in many ways, what has happened over the last week or so has provided that opportunity for them.”

The backbencher said the Tories needed to restore their “reputational integrity” in the face of criticism of the government’s handling of the situation.

The comments and polling come as Lord Evans, chairman of the Committee on Standards in Public Life, said the public cared about issues such as standards – a point recent polling surveys appear to bear out.

Speaking at an event for the Constitution Unit research centre at University College London, the former MI5 chief called on the government to “do more” to uphold decency.

“The past week has shown that standards do matter to the public. Ethical standards are important for making democracy work. The public does care about this,” he said.

Updated: November 13th 2021, 9:08 AM
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