Public opinion on Johnson, Starmer, and the government shifts once more as vaccine bounce cools

Patrick EnglishResearch Manager
July 12, 2021, 11:28 AM UTC

Boris Johnson and the Conservative government are steadily losing public support, while Starmer and Labour are slowly recovering from their low point in May

Just three months ago, the Conservatives were sweeping through councils in the North and Midlands and picking up almost 100 council seats in the so-called ‘Red Wall’ Labour heartlands.

Later in May, YouGov showed opinion poll leads approaching 20pts for the Conservatives, public approval of the government and Boris Johnson’s record to date had both just crossed over into net positive territory (+1), and approval of Sir Keir Starmer’s performance as Labour leader crashed to -48.

However, since those respective high and low points for Johnson and the Conservatives and Starmer and Labour, things have steadily but certainly shifted back in the opposite direction.

After signs of Conservative struggles in their southern heartlands in later-declared council results from 6 May, the Tories were then spectacularly beaten by the Liberal Democrats in Chesham and Amersham, and then failed to take the Leave-voting West Yorkshire seat of Batley and Spen in last week’s by-election.

What’s more, YouGov tracker data now shows that public opinion on the government and on Boris Johnson have moved firmly back into negative territory. On 5 July, we found that while 32% of the public approve of the government’s record to date, 49% disapprove – a net figure of -17. On the same day, Boris Johnson’s personal approval rating fell to a net figure of -15.

Further still, the most recent YouGov/Times poll showed an 11-point lead for the Conservatives, as opposed to the 18-point lead found on 20 May. The much discussed ‘vaccine bounce’ appears to be fading.

For Labour, while their opinion poll rating has been largely steady (31% intending to vote for the party as of 5 July, back up from a low point of 28% on 20 May), Keir Starmer’s personal approval rating has recovered somewhat by 10 points since 10 May, now standing at -38. Very slight but nonetheless important signs of Labour recovery – and trouble for the Conservatives – are beginning to take shape.