Briefly on Boris...
by Rhian Coekin, Senior Political Consultant

So we now know for certain that Boris Johnson will be the next occupant of Downing Street having secured 66% of Conservative Party members’ votes.

But how will he go down with the British public as PM? ComRes has been polling on Boris Johnson for years, so here are 10 pointers that Prime Minister Johnson might want to bear in mind as he walks towards the door of number 10:

1. On the face of it, Boris Johnson is a vote winner for the Tories; our latest MRP projection suggests a 40-seat majority for the Conservatives under his leadership if an election were held tomorrow.

2. Expectations are also high among Tory activists: seven in ten Conservative Councillors believe that of the two candidates, Johnson is best placed to defeat Jeremy Corbyn (71%).

3. However, his electoral fortunes are contingent on avoiding a General Election before Brexit is delivered. When asked how the public would vote if there was an election before 31st October, 22% would support the Brexit Party compared to 18% who would vote Tory. If one was held after 31st October, one third would vote Tory and only 10% would vote Brexit Party. If Johnson is forced by his Remainer colleagues into an early election, Nigel Farage would be one of the principal beneficiaries.

4. If Brexit is an opportunity for Johnson, it is also a threat: almost half the public (47%) believes that if he is unable to get a better deal from the EU by the 31st October, he should resign and hold an immediate General Election.

5. When asked to compare Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt, over half the public say Boris would be best placed to deliver Brexit by 31st October (64%), defeat Corbyn (57%) and reduce taxes (53%). However, Hunt is more trusted on improving public services (55%), being the best Prime Minister (58%), understanding ‘people like me’ (58%), representing the UK on a world stage (59%) and managing the economy (63%).

6. Johnson’s status as the darling of the Right is reinforced by ComRes polling showing that while more than four in ten Brexit Party voters (44%) think Johnson would be the best PM, this falls to just 27% for Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage.

7. Johnson may wish to maintain a degree of distance from his transatlantic cheerleader: most GB adults disagree with Donald Trump’s claim that Boris would make a great Prime Minister (60%).

8. The British public are also dubious about the integrity of the promises made by their now Prime Minister as seven in ten believe he ‘would promise anything to be Prime Minister, even if he knew it was undeliverable’ (69%).

9. The public are more sanguine about his more controversial comments, with more than half saying Johnson should not be disciplined for his comments about women wearing the burka (53%). This position is taken most strongly by older generations (ie those more likely to vote, and vote Conservative).

10. The country is divided on Boris, but – ominously- his favourability rating hit an all-time low of 13% when he last held high office (December 2016). He will doubtless hope that this period in high office will result in a different outcome.

As Johnson begins his tenure as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, he has a tough job winning over his Remainer colleagues as well as most of the voting public – especially in those parts of the country where, by his own admission, he has caused offence.

Should he fail to deliver Brexit by 31st October his days in office will be numbered. Even if he can deliver it, he may still find that the Commons arithmetic makes it nigh on impossible to govern. And, in the longer term, he needs to show that he can deliver a domestic policy agenda that unites a fragmented country.

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