Boris Johnson: Investigation launched into flat refurbishment
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Boris Johnson and his Government have been surrounded by allegations of sleaze in recent days following claims of impropriety, special access and possibly illegal activity being conducted at Downing Street. In the latest twist to the political saga, Mr Johnson is claimed to have said he would “rather see bodies piled high in their thousands” than order another Covid lockdown, after he accepted a second closure of the national last autumn. The allegations have been dismissed by Downing Street as “just another lie”, but have been confirmed by numerous sources. Mr Johnson is also being hounded by a claim from his former advisor Dominic Cummings that he once planned to have party donors “secretly pay” for the revamp of Number 11 Downing Street.
Trade Secretary Liz Truss insisted Mr Johnson complied fully with the rules and paid for the refurbishment, reportedly £200,000, out of his own pocket.
Leaked text messages also showed Mr Johnson telling billionaire entrepreneur James Dyson he would “fix” a tax issue in an effort to enable his workers to come back to the UK and develop ventilators.
Again, the Prime Minister claims he has done nothing wrong, but despite the avid denials, the allegations are very damaging to Mr Johnson.
The Electoral Commission on Wednesday announced it will investigate the refurbishment of the flat, saying it was “satisfied that there are reasonable ground to suspect that an offence or offences may have occurred”.
The damage has trickled down into the electorate now, with six in 10 people in Britain regarding the Prime Minister as “untrustworthy”, according to a new poll.
An Ipsos MORI survey commissioned by the Evening Standard saw just 35 percent of voters say they trusted the Prime Minister, compared to 59 percent who deemed him untrustworthy.
The poll found Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has a 42 percent trust rate, with 41 percent indicating they don’t trust the former lawyer.
The same poll found net satisfaction with the Government and Prime Minister had shifted very little from March.
Both Mr Johnson and Mr Starmer have net negative ratings, with Mr Johnson’s camp showing 44 percent satisfied compared to 50 percent dissatisfied.
Net satisfaction in Sir Keir among Labour supporters also plummeted in the past month, with only a slim 51 percent majority announcing they are happy with his performance, while 39 percent claimed dissatisfaction.
Gideon Skinner, head of political research at Ipsos MORI said: “On honesty, Boris Johnson is clearly trumped by Keir Starmer, so this is an area of potential risk for him.
“However, his own supporters still trust him and the public overall have never seen it as one of his strongest attributes… and as previous leaders such as Tony Blair have shown, you don’t have to be ahead on trust to win elections.
“The key question is whether and if these stories continue and start to change the public’s overall view on him as PM.”
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While Mr Johnson’s approval rating doesn’t seem to have budged much, the same survey by Ipsos MORI, which polled 1090 adults across Britain by telephone from April 16 to April 22, found the Conservative Party’s approval rating had been slashed by five percentage points since last month.
The monthly survey, carried out before the latest allegations made by Dominic Cummings, put the Tories on 40 percent; Labour at 37 percent down from 38 percent; the Lib Dems on eight percent up from six percent; and the Green Party unchanged at five percent.
A second poll of 2,000 voters released by consultancy firm Redfield & Wilton Strategies on Monday found the Tories had a 10-point lead over Labour, with both parties unchanged compared to the week before.
The same poll found that 44 percent of people said they would vote Conservative if there was an imminent general election, while just 34 percent would opt for the opposition.
Navendu Mishra, Labour MP for Stockport, admitted the Conservatives were benefiting from a “vaccine boost” that had succeeded in lifting public spirits, but said voters were raising issues like cronyism going on behind the scened in Westminster.
Ms Mishra said: “The sleaze is cutting through. I’ve been on the doorstep over the weekend and several people have mentioned it.”
But some Conservatives have insisted that sleaze allegations haven’t yet gained much traction among voters – although they admitted further revelations could have an impact on future elections.
One northern Tory MP said they had received “eight or nine” complaints about lobbying but that it was a “Westminster bubble issue”.
They said: “To put that into context, I had 2,500 about Dominic Cummings going to Barnard Castle and can get 500 about badger culls, while 400 people wrote to be about the Erasmus scheme.”
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