Vaccine approval yields no immediate improvement in PM’s favourability rating

Adam McDonnellResearch Director of Political and Social Research
December 04, 2020, 10:51 AM GMT+0

The number of people holding a favourable view of health secretary Matt Hancock also remains unchanged

Wednesday saw a big step forward in tackling the coronavirus crisis, as the UK became the first country to approve the Pfizer /BioNTech vaccine for use. This positive news doesn’t seem to have improved Boris’s Johnson’s own popularity, however, with new YouGov data following the announcement showing that just 35% hold a favourable view of the prime minister, compared to 54% who say unfavourable.

These numbers are essentially unchanged on the previous poll from mid-November, when 36% said they had a favourable opinion of Johnson and 56% an unfavourable one.

Nor has there has been much movement in approval for cabinet ministers, with 27% of the public holding a favourable view of health secretary Matt Hancock (from 25% in November) and 48% saying they have a favourable opinion of Rishi Sunak (from 47%).

Perhaps more worrying for Boris Johnson is that the number of people who have confidence in his ability to make the right decisions when it comes to COVID-19 is also unchanged. Six in ten (59%) say they don’t have very much or no confidence at all in the prime minister (compared to 60% in October), while 34% have a lot or a fair amount of confidence (compared to 33%). Matt Hancock has seen a slight increase in support since October with 27% saying they have confidence in the health minister now, compared to 21% in October.

While the PM hasn’t got an immediate boost in support, this could all change in the coming weeks and months as the vaccinations start to be rolled out. We saw support for both the government and prime minister shoot up back in March following the announcement of the initial full lockdown, and whether he is able to produce a similar rallying around the flag this time will be one to keep a close eye on.

See the full results here