Boris Johnson’s Conservatives have taken a 13-point lead over Labour, as a new poll recorded Keir Starmer’s popularity slumping amid the party’s hangover following its defeat in the Hartlepool by-election.
The margin is the widest recorded by Opinium since May last year, soon after Starmer took over from Jeremy Corbyn as leader.
The poll found that one-third (33 per cent) of 2019 Labour voters want Starmer to resign, compared to 49 per cent who do not.
The survey of 2,004 British adults, conducted on 13 and 14 May, found 44 per cent planning to vote Conservative – up two points since a similar poll a fortnight ago. Meanwhile Labour dropped six points to 31 per cent, meaning an overall increase of eight points in the Tory lead in just two weeks.
After almost drawing level with Johnson in Opinium’s last poll at the end of April, Sir Keir fell six points to just 23 per cent when respondents were asked who would be best as prime minister, while the Tory leader put on eight points to establish a 17-point lead over Starmer, scoring 40 per cent.
The government’s handling of the coronavirus received its highest approval rating since the middle of 2020.
Some 67 per cent of those questioned said Labour had done badly in the 6 May elections, when Starmer’s party shed 327 councillors in England and saw the Westminster seat of Hartlepool fall into Tory hands for the first time since the 1960s. Among those who said the party had done badly, almost one-third (31 per cent) said the leader was to blame.
However, a majority of the public (57 per cent) said Starmer had been a better leader than his predecessor Jeremy Corbyn, against 23 per cent who thought Corbyn had performed better.
Sir Keir’s satisfaction ratings took a huge knock, with his net approval – calculated by deducting those dissatisfied from those who said they were satisfied with his performance – plunging from plus eight to minus 11, driven by a 30-point drop in ratings among 2019 Labour voters, from plus 40 to plus 10.
Only 29 per cent of voters said Starmer looks like a prime minister in waiting, but the figures rose to 48 per cent among 2019 Labour voters.
Most popular choice as a replacement was Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham, with almost half of those questioned (47 per cent) thinking he would be a good leader, against 19 per cent who thought he would be bad.
Opinium’s head of political polling Adam Drummond said: “Keir Starmer’s ratings have taken a tumble as Labour voters begin to fear that he isn’t the one to lead the party back to power.
“The Labour leader has taken a significant fall across all metrics in the last two weeks, particularly on being a strong leader, looking like a prime minister in waiting, and being able to get things done.
“Any opposition would be struggling against a government riding the success of the vaccine rollout, and the last time the government’s approval figures for the pandemic were this positive the Conservatives held a 17-point lead. However, at least then Labour could console themselves that their leader was new and making a positive impression.
“Labour’s poor position today is the result of factors both out of their control and things they should be deeply concerned with.”
Opinium Research carried out an online survey of 2,004 UK adults from 13-14 May