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PM admits failings

Problems mount for Johnson as Tory poll ratings slide

Boris Johnson at COP26 last week

Boris Johnson has admitted his own failings in handling the controversy surrounding lobbying and MPs’ external incomes on a day that another opinion poll put the Tories behind Labour.

Mr Johnson u-turned after initially backing a move to block sanctions against ex-minister Owen Paterson who had breached lobbying rules.

The Prime Minister told a press conference today: “Of course I think that things should certainly have been handled better, let me put it that way. By me.”

His admission came as an Opinium poll for the Observer gave opposition leader Sir Keir Starmer’s party a one-point lead amid accusations against Tory MPs over their external earnings.

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Labour recorded 37% support and the Conservatives 36%, while the Lib Dems showed 9%, backing while the Greens sit on 7% and the SNP 5%.

It is the first time Labour has been ahead with Opinium since January. Opinium also recorded a slip in the Prime Minister’s approval rating to a new low of minus 21%. Sir Keir’s approval rating is -6%, from -8% last week.

Mr Johnson is now just one point ahead in terms of who people think would make the best prime minister, with 26% to Sir Keir’s 25%. However, 34% of voters opted for “none of these”.

The drop in support for the Tories since its bungled handling of the Owen Paterson affair has been recorded in a number of polls in recent days, with a Savanta ComRes poll putting Labour six points ahead and a YouGov survey finding the rival parties neck-and-neck.

A separate survey by Redfield & Wilton Strategies on Wednesday put Labour two points ahead of the Tories.

The findings come after the Government attempted to re-write the Commons standards system to delay former Tory cabinet minister Mr Paterson’s suspension for breaking lobbying rules.

There have also been revelations that former attorney general Sir Geoffrey Cox voted by proxy while offering legal services in the Caribbean.

The SNP has today demanded that the Scottish Tories carry out a review of all their donations amid claims that the party received tens of thousands of pounds worth of donations from groups linked with criminal activity.

SNP MSP Neil Gray said: “If Douglas Ross and the Scottish Tories have one shred of respect left for democracy in this country then they will conduct an internal inquiry into their party donations and root out any murky donations they receive.”

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