Labour race ahead of the Tories by SIX points according to survey

Now Boris Johnson pays price at the polls: Labour race ahead of the Tories by SIX points as survey reveals scale of public anger over PM’s handling of sleaze scandal

  • Shock poll sees Labour now sit six points clear in wake of the Tory sleaze scandal
  • The survey revealed scale of public anger over Johnson’s handling of the crisis
  • According to the poll, a Tory three-point lead last week is now a six-point deficit
  • The rapid turnaround ramps up pressure on the Prime Minister to get a grip 

A shock poll last night handed Labour a six-point lead in the wake of the Tory sleaze scandal.

The survey for the Daily Mail revealed the scale of public anger over Boris Johnson’s handling of the crisis.

According to the Savanta ComRes survey, a three-point Conservative lead last week has become a six-point deficit.

The rapid turnaround ramps up pressure on the Prime Minister to get a grip and could spark panic among Tory MPs. One said he was on the brink of submitting a formal letter of no confidence in the Prime Minister.

A shock poll last night handed Labour a six-point lead in the wake of the Tory sleaze scandal. The survey for the Daily Mail revealed the scale of public anger over Boris Johnson’s handling of the crisis

The poll found that voters overwhelmingly believe Mr Johnson should apologise for his botched handling of the scandal. He has stubbornly refused to do so.

The vast majority think Tory grandee Sir Geoffrey Cox should stand down for earning earned hundreds of thousands of pounds from a second job that saw him vote in parliament remotely from the Caribbean.

According to the poll, half of voters believe MPs should be banned from taking second jobs, with barely a quarter saying the current system was acceptable.

Conservative support has slumped four points in one week to 34 per cent. Labour jumped by five points to 40 per cent – their biggest lead since May 2019.

The findings came as:

  • Parliament’s powerful liaison committee announced it would grill the PM on his handling of the sleaze crisis in a two-hour session next week;
  • The Prime Minister’s ethics adviser Lord Evans warned that Britain could become a ‘corrupt country’;
  • Pictures emerged of the luxury villa in the British Virgin Islands from which former attorney general Sir Geoffrey cast his Commons votes by proxy;
  • Dominic Cummings claimed the PM spent time during the run-up to the Covid crisis writing a book on Shakespeare to help pay for his ‘very expensive’ divorce;
  • Analysis by the Mail revealed that Sir Geoffrey’s brief stint in government allowed him to double his average hourly earnings as a barrister;
  • New research found that 139 MPs have second jobs, with 25 moonlighting for more than eight hours a week;
  • Tory MP Natalie Elphicke, who told footballer Marcus Rashford to ‘stick to the day job’, was revealed to have a second job paying £36,000;
  • Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries brushed aside the crisis, telling Tory MPs the expenses scandal was ‘a billion times worse’ and had not stopped the Conservatives ‘monstering’ Labour at the following election;
  • Scotland Yard ruled out a probe into cash for honours allegations over the appointment of wealthy donors to the Lords.

The poll findings cap a dire ten days for Mr Johnson, which began with a botched attempt to block the suspension of former Cabinet minister Owen Paterson for breaking lobbying rules.

The Prime Minister ordered Tory MPs to push through measures to tear up anti-sleaze rules to help Mr Paterson. The vote was passed, but dozens of Tory MPs rebelled and the PM was forced to abandon the plan the following day.

The Government was then rocked by the Mail’s revelation that Sir Geoffrey had been working in the British Virgin Islands, a tax haven accused of corruption.

He has earned more than £5.5million from his second jobs since 2009. In some years he averaged more than 30 hours a week on his outside interests.

Mr Johnson told MPs this week to ‘put your job as an MP’ first, and said that rule-breakers should be punished.

But he has repeatedly refused to apologise, prompting concern among ministers that he has failed to grasp the scale of public anger.

Senior ministers have let it be known they were not consulted on the PM’s decision to back Mr Paterson, who was accused of an ‘egregious’ breach of lobbying rules on behalf of two firms that paid him more than £500,000. Chancellor Rishi Sunak hinted at tensions over the issue, saying the Government had to ‘do better’ on the toxic issue.

Today’s poll shows that 66 per cent of voters believe Mr Johnson should apologise for his handling of the Paterson scandal. Only 19 per cent say he should not.

Even among Tory voters, 60 per cent want an apology. In a further blow to the Conservatives, the poll reveals widespread anger at Sir Geoffrey’s refusal to step down as an MP – with 62 per cent saying he should resign.

In a defiant statement this week Sir Geoffrey denied wrongdoing and boasted that voters in his Torridge and West Devon seat kept re-electing him.

The poll found that 50 per cent of voters felt all MPs should be banned from having second jobs. Tory supporters were especially keen on a ban.

Today’s poll follows a string of surveys showing Labour closing the gap or even inching ahead.

Today’s poll shows that 66 per cent of voters believe Mr Johnson should apologise for his handling of the Paterson scandal. Only 19 per cent say he should not

A YouGov poll for the Times put the two main parties neck and neck on 35 per cent. But the fieldwork was conducted on Tuesday and Wednesday.

The Mail’s survey was conducted over Thursday and yesterday, suggesting that public attitudes might be hardening.

Chris Hopkins of Savanta ComRes said: ‘These latest poll numbers are obviously striking, and while recent polls have begun to show slim Labour leads, none have been quite as comprehensive as this one.’

Mr Hopkins said Labour still faced an ‘uphill’ battle because some disaffected voters were switching to the Lib Dems and Greens and Sir Keir Starmer’s party was ‘possibly not completely immune from sleaze allegations themselves’.

He said the survey suggested that an apology from the Prime Minister could ‘fix everything’ for some wavering Tories.

Savanta ComRes interviewed 2,019 UK adults online. 

Ethics chief: Never stop fighting sleaze 

The standards watchdog last night reiterated his warning that Britain could become a ‘corrupt country’ unless politicians continually strive to act ethically.

Lord Evans, chairman of the committee on standards in public life, said our economic prosperity would be under threat if people no longer believe the UK is above reproach.

The comments echoed his devastating criticism last week of the Government’s handling of the Owen Paterson case. In the blistering attack, widely seen as critical in the decision to make a U-turn, he said creating a committee to review Mr Paterson’s case would be an ‘extraordinarily inappropriate way to look at standards’.

He has now called on ministers to go further and fully overhaul the standards system.

And he declared: ‘The past week has shown that standards do matter to the public. Ethical standards are important for making democracy work. The public does care about this.’

Lord Evans, previously director general of the Security Service, made his comments at an event organised by University College London.

‘We could become a corrupt country if we don’t attend to ensuring that we maintain standards,’ he said. He added: ‘Standards matter for our democracy, they matter for our economic prosperity and for our international influence.’

Boris: Is it OK if I carry on writing my Shakespeare book? Cummings: I would focus on being PM

By Daniel Martin Policy Editor for the Daily Mail

Dominic Cummings launched a fresh attack on Boris Johnson yesterday, claiming he wanted to spend his time writing a lucrative book while ‘pretending’ to be Prime Minister.

The former chief aide said Mr Johnson wanted to work on a book about Shakespeare to raise the large sums needed for his ‘very expensive’ divorce – and because he was ‘bored’ with being Prime Minister.

Writing on his blog, Mr Cummings said it was hypocritical for Mr Johnson to ‘have a go at MPs’ over the issue of second jobs ‘given all his own outside earnings’.

Last night, No 10 strongly denied the claims, insisting they were ‘not true’.

It came as Mr Johnson’s former lover Petronella Wyatt launched an extraordinary attack on him over the latest Tory sleaze allegations.

The journalist and author, who had an affair with him two decades ago, said he was like ‘an increasingly bent copper on the beat’ who sympathises with other rule-breakers.

Dominic Cummings launched a fresh attack on Boris Johnson yesterday, claiming he wanted to spend his time writing a lucrative book while ‘pretending’ to be Prime Minister

It also emerged yesterday that Mr Johnson had earned more than £4million from outside interests over the past 14 years while London mayor and in Parliament. The Financial Times revealed that after he re-entered Parliament in 2015 he made £1.6million, mostly during his brief spell as a backbencher in 2018 and 2019.

His earnings included £450,000 from speeches, £600,000 from columns and £500,000 from book advances and royalties. In mid-2015, when Mr Johnson was London mayor, he signed a deal with Hodder and Stoughton to write the book for a reported £500,000. Publication has repeatedly been put back.

Mr Cummings wrote on his blog yesterday that Mr Johnson asked him a month after winning the December 2019 election whether ‘it’s OK if I spend a lot of time writing my Shakespeare book’.

He said the Prime Minister said: ‘This f****** divorce, very expensive. And this job. It’s like getting up every morning pulling a 747 down the runway.

‘I love writing, I love it, I want to write my Shakespeare book.’

Mr Cummings claimed that he replied: ‘I think people expect you to be doing the PM’s job, I wouldn’t talk to people about this if I were you.’

The former chief aide said Mr Johnson wanted to work on a book about Shakespeare to raise the large sums needed for his ‘very expensive’ divorce – and because he was ‘bored’ with being Prime Minister

The former aide wrote: ‘Within a month of the election he was bored with the PM job and wanted to get back to what he loves while shaking down the publishers for some extra cash.

‘In February as Covid spread he was in Chevening writing about Shakespeare and messaging No 10 that Covid was “the new swine flu”.

‘So WTF is he doing having a go at MPs given all his own outside earnings – and attempted outside earnings and illegal secret donations, while he’s supposed to be pretending to be PM?!’

Miss Wyatt was deputy editor of The Spectator while Mr Johnson was its editor in the early 2000s.

He was sacked from Michael Howard’s shadow cabinet after it emerged that he had lied about their affair.

In an article for The Sun, she wrote: ‘Like many great showmen, Boris can be a charlatan. He can no more avoid it than he can avoid blinking his eyes.’

She accused him of surrounding himself with a Cabinet of ‘Lilliputians’ and aides like the cast of St Trinian’s, writing: ‘I am no longer sure that anything can be salvaged from the scrapheap of the man I once knew and liked.’

She said she believed Red Wall Tory MPs will not forget being asked to save Owen Paterson, harming their own credibility with their voters.

‘You must now get a grip, Boris – on yourself and on No 10,’ she wrote.

‘Otherwise the prognosis is worrying. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Queen has asked to be kept informed.’

Miss Wyatt added: ‘I always thought it would be sleaze, not sex, that would be Boris Johnson’s downfall.

‘Unless he quickly pulls himself together, what began as the Owen Paterson affair may be duly marked by historians as the moment my old friend descended too deeply into the mud of the political crossroads.’

Now man who keeps ministers in line accused of conflict of interest

By Martin Beckford for the Daily Mail

Boris Johnson’s own ethics watchdog was accused last night of failing to declare important business interests.

Lord Geidt, an ex-Private Secretary to the Queen, has been accused by the union of a top university of ‘at least three serious, financial… conflicts of interest’.

It is not yet clear whether the allegations have merit but the row threatens to undermine his position as independent adviser on ministers’ interests. He could be called upon by the Prime Minister to investigate members of the Cabinet over their business dealings in the growing storm over MPs’ second jobs.

Lord Geidt, 60, who was appointed in April, is now facing accusations from staff at King’s College London, whose governing council he chairs, that he never disclosed what they say was his role as adviser to the Sultan of Oman. Staff describe Oman – which Lord Geidt visited with the Queen in 2010 – as a ‘dictatorship that systematically violates human rights and engages in torture’, whose institutions ‘have multiple partnerships with the college’.

According to a letter sent to the head of King’s by its branch of the University and College Union, Lord Geidt’s alleged advisory role in Oman has been ‘wholly undisclosed’ to the college – and does not appear in his parliamentary register of interests.

Lord Geidt, an ex-Private Secretary to the Queen, has been accused by the union of a top university of ‘at least three serious, financial… conflicts of interest’

It is also claimed he has failed to declare what they describe as paid roles for two firms that the union says King’s has invested in – arms dealer BAE Systems and asset management firm Schroders. The letter, sent to President Professor Shitij Kapur, demands a ‘full account of all potential conflicting interests’ and an ‘account of profit’ from Lord Geidt’s roles, concluding that he should be suspended pending a review.

Lord Geidt stepped down from his role at BAE Systems before becoming Mr Johnson’s ethics watchdog.

Labour’s deputy leader Angela Rayner said: ‘Lord Geidt clearly has questions to answer.’

A King’s College London spokesman insisted: ‘These claims of conflicts of interest are simply untrue, as we have robust processes to ensure that investment management decisions are made entirely independently…

‘The university does not have any investments in BAE systems…

‘We strongly reject the unfounded allegations that Lord Geidt has used his personal position at King’s for his own benefit.’

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