Wednesday, 28 Oct 2020

Divided public hands Boris Johnson another narrow win in final TV debate

A snap poll after Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn’s final face-to-face clash before the general election has delivered a rather familiar result.

Viewers of the BBC leaders’ debate were split, with 52% saying the Prime Minister performed the best compared to 48% for his Labour opponent, according to YouGov.

Although both Leave and Remain voters will turn out for each party in next Thursday’s vote, pollsters believe the Conservatives have shored up almost as much of the Brexit vote as they can under Mr Johnson.

The anti-Brexit vote is more divided between Labour and the smaller parties, although the Lib Dems’ projected share of the vote has narrowed as the election date of December 12th nears.

Most viewers thought both leaders did well, with 69 per cent saying so of Mr Corbyn and 62 per cent of Mr Johnson.

Of the 1,322 people surveyed, 38 per cent thought Mr Johnson did badly and 31 per cent thought so of Mr Corbyn.

The poll asked viewers to leave aside their party allegiance, but 90 per cent of those who voted for each of the two main parties in 2017 thought their leaders did well.

The Labour leader led his opponent on coming across as ‘in touch with ordinary people’ (by 57 per cent to 29 per cent) and ‘trustworthy’ (by 48 per cent to 38 per cent).

The Conservative leader came across as more ‘prime ministerial’ (54 per cent to 30 per cent) and ‘likeable’ (55 per cent to 36 per cent).

The pair continued to home in on their preferred policy areas, with Mr Corbyn pushing points on austerity and health while Mr Johnson hammered home his ‘Get Brexit done’ message.

Mr Johnson was seen as by 62 per cent as having done better on Brexit, while 55 per cent thought Mr Corbyn was better on the NHS.

The results suggest a marginal improvement in Mr Johnson’s debating fortunes, after 51 per cent viewers of November’s ITV leaders’ told YouGov he performed best then, to 49 per cent favouring Mr Corbyn.

Both leaders did slightly better than last time, with 59 per cent saying the Tory leader did well in November and 67 per cent saying so of the Labour leader.

It is widely agreed the tone of the BBC debate was more subdued, with no heckling from the audience.

After the debate, Lib Dem MP Tom Brake told the BBC his party was still fighting and would ‘take seats from the Conservatives’.

The SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon said both Mr Johnson and Mr Corbyn were ‘uninspiring’ and ‘unsuited to be PM’, while the Greens criticised the lack of debate on climate change issues.

The Tories have maintained their lead in the polls since campaigning began.

However their projected share of the vote has peaked at around 42 per cent in the past two weeks while Labour has continued to pick up points, mostly from the Lib Dems, to a most recent figure of 32 per cent.

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