'Is everything OK?' Starmer swipes at Boris as poll shows lowest approval rating for PM

24 November 2021, 10:08 | Updated: 24 November 2021, 15:08

Have a dozen MPs submitted letters of no confidence in the PM?

By Asher McShane

Sir Keir Starmer who pointedly asked Boris Johnson "is everything OK?" at PMQs today, amid a Tory meltdown over the sleaze scandal, social care, HS2 and his rambling speech to business leaders.

A Savanta ComRes poll suggests the PM's net favourability score has dropped to minus 14, down from minus nine last month, and worse than last Autumn during the Covid-19 crisis.

The poll also showed his favourability among people who voted Tory in 2019 dropped 13 points from +48 to +35.

Public support for the government in general has also taken a hit off the back of multiple scandals, dropping from -12 last month to -16 this month.

Sir Keir reeled off recent mishaps and said: "Is everything OK, PM?" in a fiery PMQs today.

At one point he quipped about Mr Johnson "losing his place in his notes," a reference to the error in his CBI speech to business leaders earlier this week.

The poll comes after No10 was forced to issue a statement of assurance that the Prime Minister is "well" and "still has a grip" to carry on serving the public, amid Tory criticism of his leadership and a series of scandals.

Also at PMQs today, SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford asked whether the PM was considering "calling it a day" before he's pushed, but Mr Johnson evaded the question.

It comes amid reports Tory MPs – including one whip – have claimed letters of no confidence had already been submitted against him.

Cabinet minister Dominic Raab insisted the Prime Minister dismissed the issue as "Westminster tittle tattle" on LBC this morning.

But fallout continues from Mr Johnson's chaotic speech at the Confederation of British Industry conference and a backbench revolt over social care as well as the ongoing issue of sleaze within the party.

Downing Street dismissed concerns about the PM's performance in a statement yesterday.

"The Prime Minister briefly lost his place in a speech," the official spokesman said.

"He has given hundreds of speeches. I don't think it's unusual for people on rare occasions to lose their place in a speech."

Asked whether Mr Johnson "has a grip", the spokesman replied: "Of course."

Downing Street was forced to insist that the Prime Minister was physically "well" and "focused on delivering for the public" following questions about his speech on Monday which saw him lose his place in his notes, impersonate a car and talk about a visit to Peppa Pig World.

Speaking to LBC's Nick Ferrari at breakfast, Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab said: "There will always be the scrutiny, the noisiness, that comes to British politics.

Boris Johnson loses his place in speech to business leaders

"Frankly, overwhelmingly - and I talk to colleagues, MPs on the backbenches on all sides all the time - there is huge support for what we're doing and what the Prime Minister is doing."

Rumours have swirled about strained relations between Mr Johnson's No 10 and Rishi Sunak's No 11 since a "senior Downing Street source" claimed "there is a lot of concern inside the building about the PM" and "it's just not working".

Allies of Mr Sunak denied the Treasury was involved in the briefing.

Johnson: Peppa Pig World is very much my kind of place

But the Telegraph quoted a Tory whip as saying it was an "assumption" that some MPs had sent no-confidence letters to the 1922 Committee.

If 15% of sitting Conservatives submit letters then there would be a vote on his leadership, although the whip said "it will not get anywhere near the 50 letters you would need, but it does cause angst".

Asked about the suggestion that letters had been sent to the 1922 Committee, Mr Raab told LBC: "There is the usual Westminster tittle tattle and I'm not aware of that."

The CBI speech and social care revolt on Monday - which saw 19 MPs rebel and dozens more abstain, although the Government succeeded in winning a vote on its social care cap - are the latest issues which have caused concern within Tory ranks.

The Prime Minister's judgment over the Owen Paterson row and the subsequent U-turn and the way the Integrated Rail Plan was handled have also strained relations between Mr Johnson and his colleagues.