Sunday, 29 May 2022

‘With Johnson it’s personal’ John Curtice issues bleak warning to Boris

Boris Johnson ‘in quite a lot of trouble’ says John Curtice

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Drawing a comparison with issues faced by previous “deeply unpopular” Prime Ministers, the pollster said that the crisis facing Mr Johnson is “very unusual but very deep”. Rather than being an issue of policy, Sir John said that the public’s problem with Mr Johnson “is personal”. He told that “a significant selection of the electorate questions his probity” and “doubts his honesty”.

This comes as Mr Johnson is facing increasing calls to resign over the mounting ‘partygate’ scandal.

A poll of 1,041 Tory party members saw 53.4 percent of them say Mr Johnson should resign.

The poll, conducted on January 15, was conducted using the same group of party members that gave the Prime Minister a 93 point approval rating shortly after the general election.

Numerous Tory MPs, including Scottish Conservative Leader Douglas Ross and former Brexit Minister David Davis, have also publicly called for Mr Johnson’s resignation.

Speaking about the Prime Minister’s precarious position, Sir John said: “The thing that I would suggest [the Tory party] do need to think about really carefully is previous Prime Ministers who have been deeply unpopular.

“John Major was unpopular because of Black Wednesday and then a row within the party.

“With John Major it was about policy – it wasn’t about him.

“Equally, Gordon Brown – again it was to do with policy.

“Same with Theresa May – nobody ever thought that Theresa May was anything other than an upright faithful Tory lady.

“But this time, with Johnson, it’s personal.

“And the Prime Minister’s critics would argue that it’s not just in the last two months.”

He added: “We’re not just talking about a Prime Minister that is struggling politically.

“A significant selection of the electorate questions his probity.

“They also just doubt his honestly – the numbers on honesty are terrible.”

However, the political scientist did say that the situation could possibly be “turned around”, saying that senior civil servant Sue Gray’s inquiry into the allegations could “help”.

He said: “Can this be turned around? Maybe. With an awful lot of humble pie.

“Maybe with some help from Sue Gray.”

But citing Dominic Cummings’ trip to Barnard Castle as an example, Sir John also warned that – even if Mr Johnson maintains his grip on power – people may never be convinced that he is telling the truth.

He said: “Everybody knows the story of Dominic cummings and Barnard Castle and how the public reacted. Nobody should be surprised by this.

“You never convince people. They never convinced people over Dominic Cummings.

“The public became increasingly convinced that Dominic Cummings broke the rules and so far that’s the direction in which this is going as well.

“One just remembers how hard ministers tried to say ‘it’s okay, it’s okay’.

“It never worked. They never managed to pull it around.

“And the Tories took quite a hit on that occasion.

“They never got it back, but they were just so high in the polls that they could afford to.

“But they just don’t have that luxury anymore.”

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