Boris Johnson's poll rating plunges in Owen Paterson sleaze saga

6 November 2021, 20:17 | Updated: 7 November 2021, 09:30

Boris Johnson has been criticised for his handling of the Owen Paterson saga.
Boris Johnson has been criticised for his handling of the Owen Paterson saga. Picture: Getty

By James Morris

Support for Boris Johnson is plummeting following the Owen Paterson sleaze saga, a new poll has suggested.

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The survey, carried out by Opinium for The Observer, suggested Sir Keir Starmer’s Labour Party is now almost neck-and-neck with Mr Johnson’s Tories.

The poll has the Conservatives on 37 per cent, down three per cent in a week, with Labour on 36 per cent, up one per cent from a week ago.

Meanwhile, Mr Johnson's personal net approval rating in the poll was -20, the lowest it has ever been with Opinium, with 30 per cent of those surveyed approving of the job he is doing and 50 per cent disapproving. Mr Starmer's rating remains on -9, with 29 per cent approving and 37 per cent disapproving.

Earlier this week, Mr Johnson tried and failed to overhaul the disciplinary system for MPs in a doomed bid to save Tory former minister Mr Paterson from suspension after he was found to have broken lobbying rules.

The prime minister faced a massive backlash from enraged MPs, among them Mr Starmer who said: “Corruption. There is no other word for it.”

Mr Johnson, who had initially questioned whether the investigation into Mr Paterson was fair, was then forced to U-turn over the plan to prevent him facing a 30-day House of Commons suspension for the serious breach of lobbying rules.

Owen Paterson pictured in December 2019.
Owen Paterson pictured in December 2019. Picture: Getty

Mr Paterson subsequently quit as an MP after the government abandoned its attempt to set up a Tory-dominated committee to re-examine his case and the wider Commons standards regime.

In a broadside against the Tory MPs who followed government orders to vote to save Mr Paterson – 13 Conservatives voted against Downing Street – on Wednesday, LBC presenter and Labour frontbencher David Lammy said today: "It’s so scandalously wrong that for purposes of shared political expediency and mendacity... Tories sought to go through the lobbies not just to support Owen Paterson, which is shameful, but to undermine the system by cancelling it.

“These Tories wanted to cancel your due process.”

Shadow justice secretary Mr Lammy added: "This is unacceptable, it’s shameful. It’s sleaze. It’s elitism, it’s entitlement. Throw them out.”

Education secretary Nadhim Zahawi had told LBC on Friday that "mistakes" were made by the government in its handling of the row.

He said: "I take collective responsibility as a government, and I think it's right that we say 'look, we made a mistake and we want to get this right', and of course the legislature ultimately has – I hope – a duty to create a better system that carries the confidence of the nation."