The Tories have lost their poll lead over Labour, as Boris Johnson’s “good Prime Minister” rating plummeted to its lowest point since he entered Downing Street.
An Ipsos MORI survey, carried out for The Evening Standard, put the Conservatives on 35 per cent – down four points on September.
Labour, meanwhile, are unchanged on 36 per cent – while the Greens have surged by an astonishing five points to 11 per cent, putting them third ahead of the Liberal Democrats (nine per cent).
And, for the first time since Johnson took office, a majority of adults in Britain do not think he has what it takes to be a good Prime Minister.
The poll was conducted before the Owen Paterson sleaze scandal exploded at Westminster, suggesting the Tories could lose more ground in the coming weeks.
‘No longer in a strong position’
Gideon Skinner, head of political research at Ipsos MORI, said: “The Conservatives are facing challenges on a number of fronts.
“The pandemic is far from over with high levels of infections, while we are also seeing worries about the economy, the NHS, the knock-on effects of Brexit, and other issues, all leading to rising concerns about the direction of the country – even before any long-term impact of the standards row last week.
“Climate change is also in the news and in the public’s priorities, which may help to explain the notably good figure for the Greens.
“So the Conservatives are no longer in as strong position as they were over the summer – although the public are still not convinced by Labour as an alternative.”
Johnson is facing calls for a public inquiry into allegations of Tory sleaze, as MPs consider how to clean up Westminster following the Paterson row.
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said the Prime Minister should apologise to the nation and “clean out the filthy Augean stable he has created”.
The Commons will spend three hours hearing an emergency debate on the situation, despite ministers seeking to dismiss the row as a “storm in a teacup”.
The Liberal Democrats, who secured the debate, have called for a statutory public inquiry into sleaze and corruption allegations.
The inquiry, which would have the power to summon witnesses and take evidence under oath, would examine not only the Paterson row but also the awarding of coronavirus contracts, whether Johnson’s holidays in villas provided by friends were properly declared, and how the refurbishment of his Downing Street flat was funded.
A debate was granted last week by Speaker Lindsay Hoyle following Tory attempts to block an immediate 30-day suspension for Paterson over an “egregious” breach of lobbying rules.
Conservative MPs were ordered instead to back the creation of a Tory-led committee to look again at Paterson’s case and the whole standards system.
But after a backlash the government performed a U-turn and Paterson subsequently quit as an MP, leaving what he called the “cruel world of politics”.