In Depth

Reaction: Boris Johnson plummets in polls as Tory MPs turn on Dominic Cummings

PM’s approval rating drops by 20 points in just four days

The Conservatives’ polling lead over Labour has fallen by nine points in a week as the Dominic Cummings scandal triggers fury both among voters and MPs.

A new YouGov poll for The Times found that support for the Tories has declined by four points to 44%, while Labour has jumped by five points to 38%. And separate polling shows that Boris Johnson’s personal approval rating has plunged by 20 points in just four days.

According to The Times, the drops “will sharpen criticism that Mr Johnson is spending the Conservatives’ political capital on defending an aide who critics say cares little for the party”.

William Wragg, chair of the Commons Public Administration Committee, is among a growing number of Tory MPs who have publicly criticised the government’s decision to back Cummings despite claims that he breached lockdown laws.

“We cannot throw away valuable public and political goodwill any longer,” Wragg tweeted. “It’s humiliating and degrading to their office to see ministers put out agreed lines in defence of an adviser.”

When the allegations against Johnson’s right-hand man first emerged, Downing Street suggested that “Cummings was being targeted by left-wing journalists opposed to Brexit as a way of settling scores”, says The Telegraph

But while Downing Street hoped the “Dominic Cummings row would be a culture war, criticism is crossing tribal divides”, the newspaper continues.

In a snap poll by YouGov on Tuesday, 71% of the more than 1,150 respondents said they thought Cummings had broken the rules. A total of 59% said he should resign - a call backed by 46% of Tory voters and 52% of Leave voters.

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Opposition parties have been unanimous in their condemnation of the Downing Street aide’s actions, and the chorus of criticism from within the Conservative Party is growing louder.

Indeed, 39 Tory MPs have publicly called for Cummings to go, “many citing inboxes overflowing with hundreds of angry messages from constituents”, The Guardian reports.

Meanwhile, junior minister Douglas Ross Douglas Ross has resigned from the Scotland Office in protest. Ross, who remains Conservative MP for Moray, said: “I have constituents who didn’t get to say goodbye to loved ones… because they followed guidance of the government. I cannot in good faith tell them they were all wrong and one senior adviser to the government was right.”

Johnson “looks like a man whose judgment is failing and authority fading away”, says Jonathan Lis  of the British Influence think-tank in an article for The Washington Post. “Even if Cummings does finally bow to pressure, the damage may well have been done.”

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