The Rundown Podcast: How Damaged Is Boris Johnson’s Reputation?
Leading pollsters Sir John Curtice and Chris Curtice join PoliticsHome's Eleanor Langford and Adam Payne to offer insight into how the public is feeling about the government as 'partygate' rages on and the grip of the cost-of-living crisis tightens.
"Once someone gets a reputation for not telling the truth, it is very difficult to recover," Curtice, a Professor of Politics at the University of Strathclyde and Senior Research Fellow at the National Centre for Social Research, said, addressing suggestions that if Johnson is fined by police over parties, that he could have lied to parliament.
"If, and I stress if, the Met do decide that the PM has broken the law, and if people think he hasn’t been telling the truth, then the Ukraine crisis potentially will put a higher premium on having a prime minister who is ethical and acts with due probity than would otherwise be the case," he added.
This week has also been tough for Rishi Sunak, who having raised taxes, is facing scrutiny over his wife's tax affairs. Akshata Murthy's non-dom status means that she does not pay UK tax on millions of pounds worth of international earnings.
"The optics of it are just so bad," Curtis, head of political polling at Opinium said. "The idea that you’re raising taxes at a time when arguably your wife is not paying as much as she otherwise would be, I think is going to look bad and I think that’s going to upset a lot of people."
The forthcoming May local elections is expected to be a test of people's patience with the Conservatives following a tumultuous year so far.
Curtice believed Scotland in particular would be a difficult battleground for the party, suggesting that their position as the “voice of unionism” could be under threat.
“The one place that [Boris Johnson] has to worry about is Scotland. In Scotland, all the council's seats are up for grabs,” Curtice explained.
“There is a possibility that, for the first time since 2016, that the Labour Party might come second [in Scotland], both in votes and in seats in the local elections."
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