Boris Johnson could reportedly face a crunch vote on his premiership. It comes as new polling predicted the Conservatives risk being pummelled in a key electoral contest.
Following Partygate, is the party over?
Wakefield will go to the polls on 23 June to elect a new MP. And a survey of voters has suggested the Tories could lose the by-election by as much as 20 points. It indicates that revelations about Downing Street lockdown-busting parties have hit the party’s popularity in a battleground seat. The prime minister secured his landslide 2019 majority off the back of scalps in the so-called Red Wall. Meanwhile traditional Labour-supporting areas in the North of England, the Midlands and Wales switched their support to the Tories.
The Wakefield constituency polling was reported in the Sunday Times. And it’s likely to make for anxious reading for Tory campaigners. Polling company JL Partners put Labour on 48 points compared with 28 points for the Conservatives. That’s a 19 point slip on the winning Tory performance two-and-a-half years ago.
James Johnson is co-founder of JL Partners and a former Downing Street pollster during Theresa May’s tenure. He said the so-called partygate saga looked to have damaged the Tory reputation among Red Wall voters.
The polling expert said the top reason swing voters in the West Yorkshire seat gave for preferring Labour was because “Boris Johnson tried to cover up partygate, and lied to the public”. They’re voting for a candidate to succeed former Tory incumbent Imran Ahmad Khan after he was found guilty of sexually assaulting a boy.
The PM’s days may be numbered
According to the company, 60% of those interviewed for the survey taken online between 13-22 May had a negative opinion of the PM. James Johnson tweeted:
The main hesitations about voting Conservative: trust, Boris, and a sense the Tories are out of touch and only care about the rich.
All signs are that partygate has crystallised historic concerns about the Tories and turned the people of Wakefield decidedly against them.
Boris Johnson is the most unpopular party leader in Wakefield, with a net rating of -37.
23% have a positive view of him, 60% negative.
Keir Starmer has a rating of -28 (21% positive, 49% negative).
— James Johnson (@jamesjohnson252) June 4, 2022
The survey could pile more pressure on the PM, who faces a second test in the Tiverton and Honiton by-election on the same day as Wakefield.
The poll findings come amid reports the threshold for a no-confidence vote might have been reached. And there are suggestions a leadership test could be coming as soon as 8 June. The Sunday Times reported that as many as 67 Tory MPs have submitted letters to the 1922 committee. If correct, it would cross the threshold for a no-confidence vote, which was 54 letters. The rebels would need 180 voters to remove the PM from power during the secret poll.
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