General election poll: Tories now eight points ahead as Corbyn branded GRINCH – EXCLUSIVE

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VOTERS have welcomed a December election and do not think it will ruin Christmas. More than half of people (54 per cent) questioned by ComRes rejected the notion that the festive period would be spoiled by the ballot, with fewer than one in five (18 per cent) thinking it would.

In fact there was significant support for the first December election since 1923, with nearly half (46 per cent) agreeing it was necessary to restore trust in politics. Forty-five per cent agreed the election was the “best way to resolve the Brexit debate and allow the country to move on”, with only 26 per cent disagreeing. In a blow for campaigners for a second referendum, 41 per cent of people polled said it was “better than holding a confirmatory referendum on Boris Johnson’s deal”. Only 21 per cent disagreed. There was also little sign of voter apathy with just 12 per cent saying the election was “not worth voting in”. 

The findings will prove a major encouragement to Mr Johnson as he steels himself for the biggest test of his political career. 

In the poll he consistently out-performs Jeremy Corbyn in a range of categories, with the Tories by far the most popular choice of voters. 

On voting intentions the Conservatives are in first place on 36 per cent (+3), ahead of Labour on 28 per cent (-1), the Lib Dems on 17 per cent (-1), the Brexit Party on 10 percent (-2) and the Greens on three per cent (-1). 

Nearly a third (32 per cent) of respondents said Mr Johnson would “make the best prime minister”, while just 18 per cent thought Mr Corbyn was the best person to send to No 10. 

New Lib Dem leader Jo Swinson will also be disappointed by the polling. 

Despite enjoying a blaze of publicity since taking over from Vince Cable, a paltry 11 per cent said she would make the best PM. 

It was even worse for Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage, with just seven per cent of respondents saying he was the most suitable person for the job. 

Asked who was best to represent Britain on the world stage Mr Johnson again came out on top, on 30 per cent. Mr Corbyn was on 16 per cent Respondents also saw him as the best person to unite the country (29 per cent), with only 17 per cent saying the same about the Labour leader. 

He was also thought to have the best chance of restoring trust in democracy – 25 per cent compared with Mr Corbyn’s 17 per cent. 

And nearly a third (32 per cent) thought the PM was best placed to resolve the Brexit debate, ahead of Mr Corbyn on 15 per cent. 

There was only one area where the Tory leader faced serious competition. 

When asked who was the “most trustworthy” party leader, 19 per cent opted for Mr Johnson, ahead of Mr Corbyn (18 per cent), Ms Swinson (15 per cent) and Mr Farage (eight per cent). 

However, he out-performed his rivals in the personal popularity stakes. When people were asked which leader they would most like to have Christmas dinner with, Mr Johnson was the top choice (25 per cent), followed by Mr Corbyn (16 per cent), Ms Swinson (12 per cent) and Mr Farage (11 per cent). 

Mr Corbyn did top one poll. Asked who was “most like the Christmas Grinch”, he gained the most replies on 34 per cent, ahead of Mr Farage (21 percent), Mr Johnson (13 per cent) and Ms Swinson (four per cent). 

The SNP has called for EU citizens to be allowed to vote in the election but this idea commands scant support among the wider population, with only 28 per cent agreeing and 46 per cent disagreeing. 

There is also little support for lowering the voting age from 18 to 16. A third of people (34 per cent) backed the policy, compared with 48 per cent who disagreed. 

However, there was pessimism about the potential of the election to unite the country. 

Thirty-nine per cent expect the election will leave the country “only more divided” compared with 23% who disagreed. 

Chris Hopkins, who led the research, described the findings as “good news for one person and probably one person only”. He said: “The poll gives Boris Johnson and the Conservative Party a healthy lead over Labour – ComRes’s largest Conservative lead since the 2017 election – and one which, if maintained over the next seven weeks, will almost certainly return him the keys to No 10 and the parliamentary majority he craves in order to pass his Brexit deal.” 

Highlighting a further reason for the Tories to feel encouraged, he said: “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. 

“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. 

“The further challenge to the Labour Party is Corbyn himself. 

“In every metric we tested, Boris Johnson was deemed more suitable by the public… Corbyn’s personal ratings are at an all-time, historic low, and he 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.” 

Mr Hopkins concluded: “With an engaged electorate embracing a December election, 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 Conservatives’ election to lose.” 

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