Starmer steals lead on Johnson amid Covid chaos
Sir Keir Starmer has an opinion poll lead on Boris Johnson
Boris Johnson appears to have paid the price for cancelling Christmas as support for Labour has risen to its highest level during the pandemic.
A new YouGov poll puts Sir Keir Starmer’s party four points ahead as voters lose faith in the Prime Minister’s handling of the Covid-19 crisis.
The poll was conducted on Monday and Tuesday this week just after Mr Johnson plunged a huge swathe of southern England into the toughest lockdown restrictions.
While voters have largely understood the need for tough measures to combat the virus, many have lost patience with the constant u-turns and short notice given to make changes to lifestyles and business operations. Some have questioned the way the lockdowns have been implemented and whether the restrictions are too draconian.
The poll shows the Tories down two points at 37% while Labour is up from 37% to 41%, the first time a YouGov poll has shown support for Labour above the 40% mark since Sir Keir became leader in April.
A Savanta ComRes poll in Scotland last week showed Labour lagging behind the Conservatives.
The SNP is on 55%, with 20% supporting the Scottish Conservatives and 17% backing the Scottish Labour party.
While Labour’s star is fading, Sir Keir’s favourability is higher than his Scottish counterpart Richard Leonard, with the poll indicating a net favourability of just under 1%.
Mr Johnson’s approval in Scotland languishing at -44% and 72 points below those of SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon.
Ms Sturgeon’s net approval ratings are at 28% and the Scottish Government at 17%. Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross is at -9%, with Mr Leonard at -18%.
Projections from the poll suggest the SNP would return 71 MSPs, with the Scottish Conservatives down eight seats on 23 MSPs and Scottish Labour down five seats on 19.
The Scottish Greens, currently enjoying 12% support, would see their representation almost double from six to 11 MSPs, with the Scottish Liberal Democrats staying with five MSPs.
Mr Johnson’s fading support comes just over a year since his landslide victory in the general election and ahead of new warnings from Downing Street that more parts of the UK could be placed under the toughest lockdown rules.
Ministers and scientists are due to meet this morning to discuss whether changes need to be made before a scheduled review on 30 December. Mr Johnson could make an announcement today.
The new variant prevalent in the South East has seen a doubling in the number of cases in a week, with another 36,804 infections recorded yesterday, and 691 deaths.
In Scotland, the top level restrictions may need to be strengthened, Ms Sturgeon has warned.
The whole Scottish mainland will move into level four from Boxing Day which the First Minister described as “essential” to protect the NHS and contain the faster-spreading virus.
She said consideration must be given to whether the current level four rules were sufficient to do the job.
The move to level four for three weeks will see blanket travel restrictions, with people barred from leaving their local area other than for essential reasons.
Hospitality venues will have to close. Schools will remain closed until 11 January, and most pupils will learn from home until at least 18 January – a situation Ms Sturgeon said would remain “under review”.
Garden centres and homeware retailers will be restricted to click and collect arrangements.