Labour has shot into the lead in the latest round of general election polling, with the Tories feeling the sting of Boris Johnson’s botching of Christmas coronavirus restrictions.
The latest YouGov/Times voting intention figures give Sir Keir Starmer’s party a four point lead, on 41 per cent of the vote – a four point bump from the last survey, which was conducted on 15-16 December.
The Conservatives, on the other hand, have suffered a two point dip – leaving them on 37 per cent.
Polling also showed overwhelming support for extending the Brexit transition period – with 51 per cent in favour of moving the looming deadline, a seven per cent spike from the last survey taken 11 days earlier.
YouGov also found that the majority of people support the introduction of new, harsher Tier 4 coronavirus restrictions – with 74 per cent in favour. A further 67 per cent agreed with the Christmas rule changes – but 61 per cent say the government handled the issue poorly.
More Tier 4
The polling comes as it emerged that tougher measures may be necessary to contain the spread of the mutant coronavirus. Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick acknowledged “it may be necessary to take further action” to curb rising case numbers.
Reports suggested local leaders and health officials met on Tuesday night to discuss the possibility of Birmingham being moved into a Tier 4 lockdown, while areas in lower tiers could be moved up to Tier 3.
Genomic researchers have found that the new variant, which is said to be 70% more infectious than previous strains, has already spread around the UK, with cases identified in Wales and Scotland.
Health chiefs in Cumbria have said the new variant is in the county and could be behind sharp increases in new cases, while Lancashire’s director of public health said there is a “high likelihood” that the new variant is in the county.
The current tier levels in England are due to be reviewed on December 30 but that could be accelerated. Jenrick told Sky News: “We don’t have a timetable for that. The Government’s Covid operations committee is meeting later today to review further evidence.
“We keep this under review, we are constantly hearing from our scientific advisers about what we should do.” The new variant is “very concerning” and is “prevalent probably in most regions of the country”, he acknowledged.
Starmer has written to Prime Minister Boris Johnson to say his party will back any Government moves to tighten restrictions if that is what scientists recommend.