The debate over the Prime Minister’s popularity has, in recent months, been guided by the various investigations into lockdown rule breaking at Number 10. Reports from the Metropolitan Police and from senior civil servant Sue Gray have prompted calls, both from outside and inside the Conservative Party, for Mr Johnson to resign. Some politicians and commentators have been speculating whether the affair could bring the Prime Minister down or, if not, result in the Tories losing the next election.
But polling suggests that if Labour does take the reins the next time around, this will be a result of factors other than ‘Partygate’.
Bow Group Chairman Ben Harris-Quinney said there was “absolutely no question” that the row has “severely damaged” Mr Johnson’s Conservative Party.
He told Express.co.uk that the “greater issue”, however, was its “failure to deliver on what patriotic Brexit voters wanted”.
Mr Harris-Quinney pointed to YouGov polling that suggests the Prime Minister’s unfavourability rating rose by a much greater margin between April 2022 and the October of that year (a 27 point increase) than between November 2021 and January 2022, that is, during the height of the ‘Partygate’ row (a 12 point increase).
The reason for this, he added, was clear: “They put their trust in Boris in 2019 that he was going to return the Conservative Party to conservatism, and that trust has been lost.”
In a damning indictment of the current state of the Conservative Party, Mr Harris-Quinney stressed: “On every major area of policy, this Government is operating far to the left of Blair.”
A key area of policy that remains a big vote decider in Britain is immigration (for which many argue Brexit became a byword), on which an incredible 73 percent of respondents to a December 2021 Ipsos MORI poll said Mr Johnson’s Government was doing a “bad job”.
Mr Harris-Quinney explained why this mattered for the Tory party: “Last year over a million immigrants came to the UK to live, that is a greater number than came under Labour, or under any government in history.
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“The biggest driver behind Brexit was immigration, and the feeling was that post-Brexit the government would dramatically reduce immigration, rather than dramatically increase it.”
On other matters, including the tackling of “divisive” woke politics, the handling of the economy by “spending and taxing like no government in history” and the consideration of civil liberties during the Covid pandemic, the Bow Group Chairman said Mr Johnson – both in his eyes and those of patriotic, small-c conservative, Brexit-backing voters – had failed.
He said: “It is quite simply not a conservative Government and not a Brexit Government.
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“That’s why the people that voted it into power are calling final time on a Conservative Party that refuses to learn the lesson – that when people vote Conservative, they expect conservatism.”
With polling booths set to be increasingly absent of conservative voters backing Tory candidates in upcoming elections, Labour could be expected to make some major gains.
A YouGov poll this week found that, were an election to be held in today’s political climate, all but three of the ‘Red Wall’ seats – these being areas that are largely home to the patriotic, small-c conservative, pro-Brexit voters detailed above – won by Mr Johnson’s Tory party in 2019 would flip back to Labour.
But Mr Harris-Quinney made it clear this was not because those who the Prime Minister is famously understood to have “borrowed” votes from in 2019 would back Labour. (Many of these had not voted in years, with analysis suggesting some became disenfranchised after Labour pursued a drive for ‘multiculturalism’ through mass immigration in the early 2000s.)
Instead, he argued that “they are merely returning to not voting for anyone”.
This would mean Labour winning on declining turnouts, but beating the Conservative Party nonetheless.