PMQs: Boris Johnson labelled a ‘coward’ by Keir Starmer
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Earlier this month, the Conservative Party voted to reject Parliament’s cross-party Committee on Standards, which found MP Owen Paterson made “egregious” breaches of lobbying laws when he accepted money from private firms worth three times the salary he earns in the Commons. Boris Johnson pushed the Commons to hastily change the rules to protect Mr Paterson, only to backtrack after the vote, and leave the Government hugely embarrassed and facing accusations of “sleaze”. Now an eye-opening new poll has suggested there are high levels of concern about corruption in the UK Government, where corruption is defined as “dishonest or fraudulent conduct by those in power”.
Polling from Savanta ComRes, which quizzed 2,207 UK adults from November 12-14 found overall, three quarters (76 percent) of adults are concerned, with just 19 percent saying they are not worried.
Most worryingly for Mr Johnson, the proportion who say they are concerned includes 72 percent of Conservative voters, which unsurprisingly rises to 90 percent in Labour voters.
But another significant concern for the Prime Minister is concern is extremely high across both 2016 Leave (78 percent) and 2016 Remainer (83 percent voters).
It is slightly lower amongst those who did not vote in the Brexit referendum at 68 percent.
The latest poll also shows Britons have little sympathy over suggestions MPs struggle to get by on their £81,000 salaries.
More than half (56 percent) believe this salary is too high, three in ten (30 percent) think it’s about right while just nine percent say this amount is too low.
Tellingly, half (51 percent) of Tory voters think MPs’ salaries are too high, a figure which rises to 62 percent among Labour voters.
Attention has also turned to claims of a link between donations to the Tories and peerages, with just nine percent of people quizzed in the poll in favour of keeping the House of Lords as a fully appointed chamber, with the most popular option tested being a fully elected chamber (30 percent).
The proportion backing this option includes nearly a third (31 percent) of Tory voters and rises to nearly two in five (39 percent) among Labour supporters.
More than a fifth (22 percent) of UK adults are in favour of abolishing the upper chamber completely.
Mr Johnson has also come under huge pressure in recent polls which show his popularity rating plummeting, while that of Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer quickly surges.
Despite the next general election not scheduled to take place until May 2, 2024, the Savanta ComRes poll fouhd nearly a third (28 percent) would back a new nationwide vote in 2022, including one in five (18 percent) of Conservative voters.
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Just over a fifth (22 percent) of adults would favour a general election at some point in 2023, increasing slightly to 25 percent for those favouring 2024.
Among Tory voters, 44 percent would prefer a general election in 2024 or before the scheduled date of May 2 of that year.
Chris Hopkins, Political Research Director at Savanta ComRes said: “Perhaps the only thing more eyebrow-raising than the details of MPs’ second jobs that have emerged over the last week is the fact that Boris Johnson and his government allowed the debate to get to this point in the first place. I
“Indeed, many have rightfully suggested that much of the scrutiny that has now been placed not only on MPs’ lobbying, but also their parliamentary salaries, having second jobs at all, and even appointments to the House of Lords, was easily avoidable.
“Our data from last week, which showed low levels of support for MPs being allowed to take on other work, will be compounded by this new polling, with just one in ten taking the view that MPs’ salaries are too low, and well over half thinking that, in fact, their £81k remuneration is actually too much.
“Even more concerning though will be the significant majority of the public who are now concerned about corruption in central government, and one can’t help but think that government scandals otherwise largely confined to the Westminster ‘bubble’ may have begun to shift the needle on wider public opinion.”
Last week when asked if he had a message to voters concerned by headlines about the return of Tory sleaze, Mr Johnson said: “I genuinely believe that the UK is not remotely a corrupt country and I genuinely think that our institutions are not corrupt.
“We have a very, very tough system of parliamentary democracy and scrutiny, not least by the media.
“I think what you have got is cases where, sadly, MPs have broken the rules in the past, may be guilty of breaking the rules today. What I want to see is them facing appropriate sanctions.”
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