Katy Balls

New poll puts Labour in front following Boris’s tax gamble

New poll puts Labour in front following Boris's tax gamble
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Boris Johnson's health and social care levy may have won the support of his MPs but that doesn't mean it's a hit with the public. Overnight a new YouGov poll for the Times has been released which suggests that Tory support has fallen to its lowest level since the election. The poll puts Labour ahead of the Tories at 35 per cent, with the Conservatives on 33 per cent.

As for Johnson's plan to make the Conservatives the party of the NHS, there is some work to do before this becomes a reality. According to the poll, less than a third of voters said the Tories care about improving the NHS. Meanwhile there are signs that the decision to raise taxes is hurting the party's reputation for keeping taxes low. Six in ten voters said they do not think Johnson cares about keeping taxes low.

Of course it's just one poll so it's hard to read too much from its findings. However, what it does do is point to the political risk for Johnson of his decision to raise taxes to fund the NHS. The risk is that he fails to get much credit for funding the NHS while losing support over the dent to the Conservatives' reputation as the party of low tax. 

It's a particular problem for Johnson as there are plenty of Tory MPs who are nervous over the policy. With another vote due next week on the plans, those MPs who voted against or abstained will be further emboldened. Johnson's relationship with his party is ultimately a transactional one — MPs are willing to back him and his agenda because they believe he is a vote winner. Anything that suggests otherwise leaves him vulnerable to future rebellions. 

Written byKaty Balls

Katy Balls is The Spectator's deputy political editor.

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