Boris Johnson is losing his grip on many of the seats in the English north and midlands that won him his parliamentary majority last year, a new poll has found.
Battered by perceptions of mishandling coronavirus and his decision to stand by embattled aide Dominic Cummings, the prime minister would lose 36 out of the 45 seats he took the last election, according to the survey by JL Partners.
The constituencies are seen as a key battleground at the next election, set for 2024, because they were the source of most Tory gains last year.
Mr Johnson himself has a slightly negative rating of -2 per cent in the so-called « red wall » constituencies, compared to his chancellor Rishi Sunak who has +33 per cent. Labour leader Keir Starmer had a corresponding score of +7 per cent.
While the prime minister is a slight drag on support for his party, the least popular members of the prime minister’s cabinet in the seats are Home Secretary Priti Patel (-34 per cent), followed by the PM’s former Vote Leave comrade Michael Gove (-28 per cent).
Former aide Dominic Cummings is also wildly unpopular there, with a -50 per cent approval rating, beating all elected politicians who pollsters asked about.
Voters switching away from the Conservatives were mostly likely to cite confused messaging during the pandemic and Mr Cummings’ trip to Barnard Castle as reasons for not voting Tory again, the poll, commissioned by Channel 4 News, found.
People who had not voted Tory in 2019 cited similar reasons but also said they believed the Conservatives were the party of the rich did not care about ordinary people.
The poll surveyed a representative sample of 500 voters from seats the Conservatives gained from Labour in the North, Midlands and Wales, between 19 November and 30 November. It has a margin of error of 4.3 per cent.
The biggest drags on Labour support by far in the seats was a perception that the party could not manage the economy, followed by a lack of trust, party division, and concerns about Keir Starmer’s leadership.