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Pollwatch: Boris’ Bday Bash

Chris Hopkins Political Research Director 26/01/2022

The public do not trust the police to investigate the 'partygate' scandal

Half (51%) of the British public say that they do not trust the Metropolitan Police investigation to uncover whether Coronavirus rules and regulations were broken at a series of lockdown get-togethers in No.10 Downing Street according to a snap poll by Savanta ComRes.

Perhaps, then, this is an indication that things are as bad as they’re going to get for the government...

And although two in five (42%) say that they do trust the Met’s investigation, only 8% say that they trust it “a great deal”.

The investigation by the Metropolitan Police is likely to only have the power to issue fines to those it finds have breached Coronavirus regulations, and a majority (59%) of the public say that this is too lenient, including 42% of 2019 Conservative voters. A third (32%) of the public say that fixed penalty notices are about a fair punishment.

The poll comes as two thirds (67%) of the public say that the Prime Minister should resign, although this figure is practically unchanged from earlier this month when the Prime Minister admitted to briefly attending a BYOB drinks event in the Downing Street garden while Britain was in its first full lockdown.

When asked which of the government’s various Partygate scandals is the worst, only 13% say that they consider that event, one of the earliest alleged breaches of the rules, the worst, while a similar proportion (15%) say that the No.10 Christmas Party, the scandal that kicked off the whole Partygate affair, is the worst.

And while recency bias may be a factor, a quarter (27%) say that the PM’s birthday gathering in 2020 is the worst example of alleged breaches of the rules, while approaching two in five (37%) say it was the No.10 staff leaving party the evening before Prince Philip’s socially distanced funeral.

Commenting on the findings, Chris Hopkins, Political Research Director at Savanta ComRes says:

The latest allegations against the Prime Minister and No.10 Downing Street, however bad, do not appear to have moved the needle that much, with very similar figures to before saying the PM should resign and that Britain wouldn’t forgive him for the scandal even if he were to resign. Perhaps, then, this is an indication that things are as bad as they’re going to get for the government, unless, of course, there are more serious allegations to come.

“Really, it’s going to be the results of the inquiries and investigations that are the next battle for the Prime Minister and, if Sue Gray’s inquiry report does end up being delayed as a result of the Met investigation, the Prime Minister may be feel marginally safer in the knowledge that things can’t get much worse in the court of public opinion in the very near-future. This poll seems to imply, at the very least, that it’ll take a lot worse than him enjoying some birthday cake with staff to further-outrage an already angry electorate.”

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