Less than half of Tory voters think the Prime Minister has been honest over the allegations
Despite efforts at an apology at Prime Minister’s Questions this week, it seems Boris Johnson has failed to quell mounting public anger. The reasons offered up by Johnson in an attempt to explain away his attendance at a garden party at Number 10 did not wash with Keir Stammer, nor his backbenchers. Now, the Leader of the Scottish Conservatives, Douglas Ross, has called on the PM to resign.
Following Johnson’s admission that he did attend the Downing Street garden party, and his insistence he thought it was a “work event”, a new YouGov/Times survey conducted on 12-13 January shows six in ten Britons (63%) think he should resign. The issue has split 2019 Conservative voters, with 41% thinking he should go while 47% think he should remain. Even among those who say they currently intend to vote Conservative, 19% think Johnson should go.
Few people (8%) believe the prime minister has been honest in responding to questions about allegations of parties in Downing Street during the lockdown period in general. Only slightly more (13%) buy that he is being honest in his specific claim that he attended the 20 May 2020 garden party for 25 minutes in the genuine belief it was a ‘work event’. This includes a quarter (27%) of those who had backed the Conservatives at the election six months prior.
But do the allegations even matter? Part of Johnson’s defence at the despatch box on Wednesday rested on the government’s pandemic track record, citing the success of the vaccination programme.
This is a defence that is not likely to be accepted by the public, as a separate YouGov/Times poll conducted on 11-12 January shows that 46% say it’s more important that a prime minister is personally honest and tells the truth, whether or not they take the right actions on the issues facing the country. Only half as many (23%) think it’s more important for a prime minister to make the right decisions for the country than tell the truth.
Despite failing to win over the public, Johnson’s defence may well get him off the hook with some 2019 Conservative voters – 40% of whom think that whether a prime minister takes the right actions on the issues facing the country matters more than being personally honest. However, 35% think a prime minister’s truthfulness matters more.