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Boris Johnson’s poll lead takes fresh tumble in wake of Dominic Cummings row

Dominic Cummings has said he acted ‘reasonably and legally’ when he made the journey to Durham.

3 min read

The Conservative Party’s poll lead over Labour has been slashed by eight points in a week dominated by the row over Dominic Cummings’ lockdown trip to Durham.

The latest Opinium poll for The Observer shows that 43% of voters now support the Tories, compared to 39% who back Labour.

That marks a four-point climb for Labour in a week, and a four-point drop for the Tories - giving Boris Johnson’s party its slimmest lead over the opposition since August.

The Prime Minister has also seen his personal approval ratings plummet from 45% to 37%. 

Forty two percent of the public now say they disapprove of the Prime Minister, up from 36%.

By contrast, 44% of those polled say they approve of Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer, while 19% disapprove of him.

The findings come after a week in which Mr Johnson continued to stand by his most senior aide over the controversial journey from London to Durham during the lockdown.

Mr Cummings has said he acted "legally and reasonably” over the trip to ensure he had childcare for his four-year-old son while both he and his wife were ill, and the Prime Minister has said the matter is closed and urged MPs to “move on”.

But the Opinium study shows that two-thirds (65%) of those polled think Mr Johnson is wrong to support Mr Cummings – including almost half (48%) of 2019 Conservative voters. 

Only a quarter (26%) of the public think the PM was right to stand by his top adviser.

Meanwhile just over two in five (43%) of UK adults quizzed by the polling firm say they have lost respect for the government over its support for Mr Cummings.

Adam Drummond, head of political polling at Opinium, said: “While this is the first week that Boris Johnson’s approval ratings have dipped into negative territory, the bulk of the decline from his post-hospitalisation high point of +28% had already taken place and the curve in the last week is only slightly steeper than the one before, suggesting that it’s Coronavirus rather than Cummings that is the true cause of the prime minister’s ratings decline. 

“Despite not being a member of the party, the Cummings saga’s bigger impact seems to have been on the Conservatives with their poll share dropping by four points and Labour’s increasing by the same amount.”

The findings came as a senior Downing Street source told the Mail on Sunday that the top Number 10 adviser had been “firmly put in his place” following the row.

They said: "The Prime Minister has made it absolutely clear that Dominic cannot be the story again.

"He will not tolerate it. If it happens again, he’s out."

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