Gone are hefty heights of Hartlepool! Boris issued leadership warning after mine gaffe

Boris Johnson addresses political challenges at climate summit

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The Conservative leader has been warned he is no longer enjoying the “hefty heights” of popularity that he saw two months ago when the Tories overwhelmingly won the Hartlepool by-election. A series of scandals, perceived blunders, and U-turns have been blamed for a collapse in support for the Prime Minister.

A recent poll of Tory party members put net satisfaction rating for Mr Johnson at just 3.4 percent, a drop of 35 points since the last survey a month ago.

Yesterday, Mr Johnson risked further angering voters in the Red Wall seats that helped him secure the 2019 election win after he claimed that Margaret Thatcher had given the UK an “early start” in the shift away from fossil fuels by closing pits.

The Prime Minister’s comments have been condemned by both Labour and the SNP.

Speaking to Express.co.uk, pollster James Johnson, who ran polling for Theresa May when she was in No10, admitted the remarks would “raise an eyebrow” among Red Wall voters.

He said: “I don’t think there’s any way you can spin this comment as a good thing.

“Clearly this sort of line is not going to go down well in these areas.”

But he added the remarks were not as damaging among 2019 voters as some were claiming and there were far greater frustrations with the Prime Minister.

He said: “The voters that the Conservatives won from Labour in 2019 were largely between the age of 45 and early 60s.

“Most of them, on that medium age, would have been about 10 or 15 years old when the mines were closed, if that.

“I’m not convinced that many of these voters will have it front of mind.

“I’m not convinced this is the issue that breaks Boris Johnson amongst the people he won a couple of years ago.”

The pollster from JLL Partners added: “I think Boris Johnson is having a bit of a moment. His bounce is wearing off a bit from the vaccine.

“I don’t think we’re in the hefty days of the Hartlepool by-election anymore. People have questions about Boris Johnson on strength.

“People often talk in the focus groups in the Red Wall about this feeling that they voted for this guy who they thought was going to get Brexit done, they thought was a real force of nature who went with his gut rather than what was popular.

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“People are starting to question that a bit, asking whether he’s run more by his advisers, asking whether he really does have that inner strength.

“At the election last time they liked him being generally a bit scruffy and disorganised, I think the pandemic has made them sort of slightly question the usefulness of that.”

In recent weeks Boris Johnson has been forced to sack Matt Hancock for breaking Covid rules after originally standing by the Health Secretary, U-turn on his attempts to avoid self-isolation, and has caused chaos for millions of families hoping to go abroad this summer with coronavirus travel rules.

However, despite the growing anger at the Prime Minister’s leadership, James Johnson backed the Conservatives to still win the next election.

Frustrations with the Government were nothing compared to the unpopularity of Labour and Sir Keir Starmer.

He said: “Make no mistake, compared to Keir Starmer, Red Wall voters overwhelmingly favour Boris Johnson still.

“Yes, there are frustrations, but I can’t see any frustrations that are more prominent for Boris Johnson than Conservative voters have had for other prime ministers in the past.

“If there was an election tomorrow, despite those frustrations and the quibbles, with the choice between Boris Johnson and Keir Starmer all of the data is suggesting those voters will stick with the Conservatives.”

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