Boris Johnson better PM than Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer, poll states

Survey also shows that Conservatives have closed lead on opposition to two points - despite confidence vote and cost of living crisis

Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson making a speech at the Conservative Party conference in October 2021. Since then, he has faced a series of crises, including the Partygate scandal, but still appears to appeal to some voters. AP
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Boris Johnson still makes a better British prime minister than the Labour opposition leader Sir Keir Starmer, new polling has shown.

Despite his premiership coming uncomfortably close to an end following a confidence vote last week, a survey has shown that the ruling Conservatives have marginally closed the gap on Labour to within two points.

The confidence vote had been called by Conservative MPs after the scandal of rule-breaking lockdown parties at Downing Street and questions over the veracity of the prime minister’s statements to parliament.

The Opinium poll, published in the Observer, showed that the prime minister’s approval ratings had improved by three points to -27 despite the confidence vote, Partygate and the continuing cost of living crisis. Sir Keir’s approval rating of -6 is unchanged from the last poll.

It found that 28 per cent of respondents considered Mr Johnson would make the best prime minister, with only 26 per cent saying Sir Keir would.

The survey showed that Labour’s lead over the Conservatives had reduced from three points to two from the last poll two weeks ago.

This will put pressure on Sir Keir, who received some criticism following his performance at Prime Minister’s Questions in Parliament on Wednesday. Sir Keir had chosen to highlight healthcare failings, rather than attack Mr Johnson over the confidence vote and Partygate.

Labour Party leader Sir Keir Starmer during a visit to Belfast, Northern Ireland, last week. Despite scandals engulfing Boris Johnson, some voters still prefer him as prime minister. Getty.

Labour are on 36 per cent of the vote and the Conservatives have increased by one point to 34 per cent. The Liberal Democrats are on 13 per cent, with the Greens on 6 per cent.

A focus group conducted in the West Midlands last week also provided good news for Mr Johnson, suggesting that his popularity was durable despite Partygate and dire economic challenges.

Carried out in a marginal seat, which had been Labour since 1992 but turned Conservative in 2019, it consisted of six people who had previously voted Labour but had turned to the Tories in the last election.

While four considered Mr Johnson dishonest, none thought he should resign — and all of six stated they would continue to vote Conservative.

The prime minister will face another significant leadership test at two by-elections on June 23, both of which his party is expected to lose.

However, if the losses are not considerable, he will likely not face any further challenge to his leadership until after the summer when the privileges committee will report on whether he wilfully misled parliament in his Partygate statements.

Backbench Tory MPs are understood to have given him 100 days to reform, including cutting taxes and introducing a significant Cabinet reshuffle, before they mount another challenge.

Updated: June 12, 2022, 8:37 PM