Tory support slashed after Dominic Cummings' explosive attack on PM, poll suggests

29 May 2021, 21:03 | Updated: 29 May 2021, 23:08

The Tories saw their lead in the opinion poll cut after Dominic Cummings' allegation
The Tories saw their lead in the opinion poll cut after Dominic Cummings' allegation. Picture: PA
Nick Hardinges

By Nick Hardinges

The Tories have seen their support slashed by seven points after Dominic Cummings' explosive attack on the government's handling of the pandemic, a poll has suggested.

Boris Johnson also saw his approval rating drop from plus six per cent to minus six per cent, the Opinium survey found.

The study saw Labour close the gap on their rivals, with the Tories down two points on 42 per cent and Labour up five points on 36 per cent.

However, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer's net approval rating did not budge from a fortnight ago, staying at minus nine per cent.

Opinium's figures are based on likely voters who chose a party.

Despite most in the opinion poll not trusting Mr Cummings to tell the truth, many of the explosive claims made during his seven-hour testimony were believed.

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One allegation levelled at the government by the former senior adviser to the PM was that it pursued a herd immunity strategy at the start of the pandemic.

In the study, two-thirds said they believed this claim, while just one in five said it was false.

The majority of responders (66 per cent) also believed Mr Cummings' claim that the prime minister thought Covid-19 was a "scare story" and called it "the new swine flu", with less than a quarter saying this was not true.

Some 56 per cent believed Mr Johnson went on holiday in February 2020 without paying attention to the crisis that was approaching, with 26 per cent saying that was false.

More than half said they believed the PM was distracted by his personal life and was unable to concentrate on the decisions that needed to be taken, with 34 per cent saying that was not so.

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Slightly less than half (49 per cent) believed Health Secretary Matt Hancock lied about whether people would be tested before being discharged from hospital to care homes, with 28 per cent saying that was false.

And 44 per cent think Mr Hancock should resign as health secretary, compared to 30 per cent who think he should stay.

Adam Drummond, Opinium's head of political polling, said: "Whilst Dominic Cummings is seen as one of the least trustworthy men in Britain, the public do see some truth in the allegations he made against Boris Johnson's government, puncturing the Conservatives' post-Hartlepool bounce and reversing a recent spike in the prime minister's approval rating.

"However, there are strong reasons to believe that this won't last though as the underlying approval figures for the vaccine rollout, which has driven voting intention since the beginning of 2021, are unchanged and remain very strong."

Opinium Research carried out an online survey of 2,004 UK adults between 27 and 28 May. Results have been weighted to representative criteria.