Boris Johnson hoped to mark his two year anniversary with a series of big domestic policy announcements as part of his plans for the post-Covid recovery. Instead, the Prime Minister had to spend it in self-isolation on a weekend in which a series of polls pointed to a dip in support for his government.
The most striking was a YouGov poll on Friday that suggested the Tory lead had fallen by six points to 38 per cent of the vote:
Since then, a series of other polls have emerged that also seem to point to a narrowing of the poll gap between the Tories and Labour, with Survation finding support for Labour rising slightly:
The latest poll comes from Redfield and Wilton – suggesting the Tories now hold a four-point lead over Labour:
So, what’s going on? In recent months, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has tried a range of attacks on Johnson’s government to little avail. From the row over the refurbishment of the No. 10 flat to cronyism on Covid contracts, Labour MPs have been disappointed that despite attracting column inches these lines have had limited impact when it comes to voting intention. In contrast, government ministers have repeatedly used their poll support to suggest that both the opposition and journalists were ignoring voter’s priorities by focussing on such issues.
Inside government, the recent dip in support is being put down more to Covid than anything else. For months now, the Conservative party has benefitted from a vaccine bounce as a result of the successful vaccine rollout. There are signs that this has stalled of late. Rather than a moment of celebration, the lifting of nearly all restrictions earlier this month came with concerns over rising cases – with polls suggesting the public were worried about the pace of easing – as well as questions over the practical wisdom of the self-isolation rules, which will see millions ‘pinged’ ahead of a self-isolation exemption for the double jabbed next month.