Polls show Boriss fall from grace 2 years on as Lib Dems could sweep up in by-election

Boris Johnson is in 'great difficulty' admits Steve Baker

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Boris Johnson has faced a mountain of challenges since taking office in December 2019, not least the coronavirus pandemic and everything that came with it. But while the Prime Minister enjoyed initial public support, damning reports of sleaze, lockdown rule-breaking and being caught in one too many lies appears to have finally turned the electorate against the PM and the structures around him are crumbling fast.

Recent polling shows just how far the Conservative Party has fallen and the mountain to climb before election season next rolls around.

But there is a more immediate looming threat: the North Shropshire by-election this week, the seat at the heart of the sleaze scandal that saw Owen Paterson resign and a wave of accusations against the party emerge.

The usually ultra-safe Conservative seat is now favoured to swing to the Liberal Democrats, according to bookies across the board.

And it appears even the Tories think they might lose it, with Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi admitting by-elections are sometimes used to “send a message” to the ruling party.

Mr Zahawi could be right, as momentum behind the Lib Dem candidate, Helen Morgan, appears to grow, with Ladbrokes, Paddy Power and William Hill all slashing odds the 46-year-old parish councillor winning the seat on December 16.

Lib Dem Party leader Sir Ed Davey said on Sunday: “The momentum is now with the Liberal Democrats as we enter the final week of this campaign.

“Every day we are hearing from lifelong Conservative voters who are furious with the Prime Minister for lying, breaking the rules and trying to cover it up.

“They now have an opportunity to tell Boris Johnson that the party is over.”

A memo to staff from the Liberal Democrat high command on Friday revealed that according to responses it had reviewed from voters who intend to cast a ballot on Thursday, the Tories – who enjoyed a 23,000 majority at the last election – now have a lead of just one point.
The Lib Dem projection puts the Tories on 40 percent, the Lib Dems on 39 percent and Labour on 12 percent, with Reform UK and the Greens on four percent each.

On a wider scale, the polls are equally worrying for the Conservatives, with Labour surging ahead in a manner not seen by the opposition for years.

A poll published over the weekend saw Labour surge to a commanding nine-point lead as the Prime Minister battles the Christmas party scandal.

The poll, by Opinium for the Observer, also shows 57 percent of voters think Mr Johnson should resign, up nine points in two weeks.

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His personal ratings have fallen to -35 percent, down 14 points from what was already a record low of -21 percent two weeks ago.

The poll puts Labour on 41 percent, with its nine-point lead being the biggest Opinium has recorded since 2014.

The Tories are now on 32 percent, their lowest score since 2019, while the Liberal Democrats are on nine percent (+1), the SNP on five percent (unchanged) and the Greens on five percent (-1).

Asked which of three Covid-19 related scandals had shocked them more – the No 10 staff Christmas party last year, the Dominic Cummings trip to Barnard Castle or the Matt Hancock/Gina Coladangelo affair, the Downing Street party topped the list.

Of those polled, 51 percent said they found that event most shocking, followed by 28 percent for the Cummings trip and 21 percent for the Hancock controversy.

The poll came after a particularly tumultuous week for the Prime Minister, during which he was confronted with multiple leaked stories of lockdown rule-breaking within his party, allegations the PM misled his own standards adviser, Lord Geidt, over the arrangements for the refurbishment of his Downing Street flat, and anger from his backbenchers over new Covid restrictions aimed at holding back the spread of the Omicron variant.

During the extraordinary week for Mr Johnson, his wife also gave birth to their second child, a baby girl.

This week, the PM will be offered little respite as he is not expected to take immediate paternity leave.

On Tuesday, he faces a potentially disastrous rebellion by his own MPs when the latest Covid measures will be voted on in parliament.

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