BORIS Johnson is in the driving seat – and is on course for a Parliamentary majority which will give him the leeway he needs to get his Brexit deal through the House of Commons, a pollster has predicted.
Chris Hopkins, head of politics at ComRes, made his remarks after the publication of its latest Voting Intention poll, suggesting Mr Johnson’s Conservative Party currently enjoys an eight-point leader over Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour, a fact he attributed partly retaining the Leave vote better than Labour was managing to retain the Remain vote. Mr Hopkins added negative perceptions of Mr Corbyn himself appear to be hampering his party’s chances – with significantly more people saying they would like to have Christmas dinner with Mr Johnson.
The survey, during which ComRes interviewed 2,032 British adults between October 30 and 31, puts Jo Swinson’s Liberal Democrats on 17 percent, and Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party on 10 percent.
In his latest poll watch analysis, entitled Upsetting the Apple Cart, Mr Hopkins said: “The poll, on behalf of the Sunday Express, gives Boris Johnson and the Conservative Party a healthy lead over Labour – ComRes’ largest Conservative lead since the 2017 election – and one which, if maintained, will almost certainly return him the keys to No.10 and the Parliamentary majority he craves in order to pass his Brexit deal.”
Mr Hopkins pointed out despite the Tories’ sizeable lead, Mr Johnson’s predecessor Theresa May had frittered away an even larger advantage during the 2017 general election campaign which saw her lose her overall majority.
He said: “There needs to be some caution expressed at this early stage.
“No pollster could say with any confidence that the lead they’re showing for the Conservatives now will be exactly the same come polling day, and the continual reminder that all polls are a snapshot of the current picture needs reinforcing now more than ever.”
Nevertheless, he said the results did indicate the enormous uphill task which Mr Corbyn was facing.
Mr Hopkins explained: “The Conservatives are retaining the 2016 Leave vote far better than the Labour Party are retaining the 2016 Remain vote.
“While a majority of 2016 Leavers would vote Conservative and only a fifth at the moment are intending to vote for the Brexit Party, the story is far closer among 2016 Remainers, where two in five would vote Labour but almost a third would vote Lib Dem.”
Labour’s Brexit policy appeared to be causing confusion among the electorate, Mr Hopkins said.
He added: “Despite what the Shadow Cabinet may say, it’s clear where the Liberal Democrats, Conservatives and Brexit Party stand on the subject of the UK’s withdrawal from the EU, and while the Labour Party’s message remains cloudy to the public, they’ll continue to split the Remain vote that they’ll need to stand any chance of winning this election.”
Meanwhile, there was also some evidence Mr Corbyn was an impediment to would-be Labour voters.
Mr Hopkins said: “In every metric we tested, Boris Johnson was deemed more suitable by the public, whether that was best Prime Minister, best to represent Britain on the world stage, best to resolve the Brexit debate and even who they’d most like to have Christmas dinner with.
“Corbyn has to hope that the frequent exposure that an election will bring will change the mind of the public once again, just like it did in 2017.”
Significantly, the study also suggested despite some concerns voiced prior to Parliament’s approval of Mr Johnson’s motion to dissolve Parliament last week, voters were not put off by the prospect of a Christmas election.
Asked who they would most like to enjoy a festive meal with, 25 percent opted for Mr Johnson, 16 percent said Mr Corbyn, 12 percent said Mrs Swinson, 11 percent said Nigel Farage and 37 percent did not know.
Mr Hopkins said: “A majority disagree that it’ll ruin Christmas, and almost twice as many agree than disagree that it’s the best way to resolve Brexit and allow the country to move on.
“With an engaged electorate, the stalls are set out for a winter campaign that Jeremy Corbyn is going to have to come from behind in order to upset the apple cart.
“He’s done it before, but this looks like the Conservative’s election to lose.”