New YouGov poll suggests recent controversies have had little effect on public support for the Conservatives
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The YouGov poll carried out for The Times on Westminster voting intention carried out on Tuesday and Wednesday put the Conservatives on 44 per cent, unchanged from April 21-22.
However, Labour was down a point on 33 per cent.
The new poll may alarm the Labour leader as he focuses much of his campaign for the May 6 local elections on the “sleaze” row, a row which the poll suggests has had little effect on support for the Tories.
Many experts would have expected the many allegations of cronyism over the last few months to have damaged the governing party’s poll numbers, though this has not been the case.
What’s going on with the flat?
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has said the situation was getting “a bit farcical” as he urged Boris Johnson to “answer a very simple question” on who initially paid for refurbishments to his Number 11 Downing Street flat, adding: “What is he hiding?”
The Prime Minister has insisted he has not broken any laws over renovations of his residence after the Electoral Commission launched a formal investigation.
The watchdog said there are “reasonable grounds” to suspect an offence may have occurred, to which Downing Street said Johnson would be “happy” to assist the commission with its inquiries into who initially paid for the work.
The Prime Minister continued to criticise questions over the lavish refurbishment of the flat as a “farrago of nonsense” as he vowed to comply with the Electoral Commission investigation.
Investigators from the Electoral Commission can demand documents and information, and could potentially seek a statutory interview with the Prime Minister as part of the process.
Johnson said on Thursday (29 April) that “I don’t think there’s anything to see here”, telling broadcasters during a visit to a London school: “We will comply with whatever they want, and I don’t think there is anything to worry about.”
How is John Lewis involved?
The upmarket overhaul of the PM’s No 11 residence was inspired by a desire to get rid of the “John Lewis furniture nightmare”, as reported by the Tatler magazine covering high society.
The Prime Minister has said: “The one thing I object to in this whole farrago of nonsense is I love John Lewis.”
He declined to commit to immediately publishing in full any findings from newly appointed ministerial standards adviser Lord Geidt as he carries his own review into whether any donations were properly declared.
The refusal led to renewed criticism from Labour, who were already objecting to the arrangement because the Prime Minister remains the “ultimate arbiter” of the ministerial code, meaning he “effectively marks his own homework”.
Questions have been mounting over the flat since former aide Dominic Cummings accused Johnson of wanting donors to “secretly pay” for the renovations to the apartment in a “possibly illegal” move.
Prime ministers get a budget of up to £30,000 per year to renovate their Downing Street residency, but newspaper reports have suggested Johnson has spent up to £200,000.
How does it affect the polls?
According to Politico’s national poll of polls, the Conservatives have a comfortable 9-point lead over Labour, with the smaller parties all lagging way behind on single-figures.
The much-predicted vaccine bounce has materialised to some extent for the government, with polling for the Conservatives beginning to pick up mid-December and rising steadily since, from around 39 per cent to 43 per cent.
This seems to have come directly to Labour’s detriment, as polling for the opposition has dropped from almost level with Tories in December, on 38 per cent, to now around 34 per cent.
The causes of this are up for debate, though some commentators have begun to question whether Starmer has been able to connect with the electorate and give any indication of his world-view.
Some of this decline in Labour’s support is likely to come from younger members and those on the left of the party feeling increasingly alienated by the party’s leadership.
Starmer will hope that older, more socially-conservative voters who have left the party over the last couple of decades will replace those lost younger voters.
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