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26 May, 2020 14:35

Boris Johnson’s approval rating PLUMMETS by 20 points after refusing to sack Cummings for lockdown breaches

Boris Johnson’s approval rating PLUMMETS by 20 points after refusing to sack Cummings for lockdown breaches

The UK prime minister’s public approval rating has plummeted to below zero as he stands by his closest aide Dominic Cummings, who was found to have flouted lockdown rules twice during the ongoing Covid-19 crisis.

Boris Johnson’s approval rating currently sits at minus 1 percent, according to the Savanta coronavirus data tracker – a drop of 20 points from just last week.

The market research firm surveys over 1,000 UK residents every day to track public sentiment around the Covid-19 pandemic. The tracker measures, among other things, the popularity of eight key public figures involved in the government’s response to the outbreak – and Johnson is currently the least popular of the lot. 

The PM has come under increasing criticism throughout the pandemic for his government’s handling of the crisis. The UK is the worst-hit country in Europe, with 36,914 deaths and 261,184 confirmed cases as of Monday, and it has seen a particularly high proportion of Covid-19 deaths within care home settings.

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The Dominic Cummings saga, however, appears to have worsened the PM’s public standing even further. It emerged on Friday that Johnson’s closest adviser broke lockdown restrictions – which Cummings himself had lobbied for – by driving some 260 miles from his London home with his wife and child in March to stay near his parents. He defended the trip by claiming that it counted as essential travel as it had to do with childcare, despite the fact that he himself was displaying Covid-19 symptoms.

Cummings was then confronted with allegations he went on a second outing to a rural location with his wife and son 30 miles away from the property they had been staying at, while displaying symptoms of coronavirus. During a press conference on Monday, he insisted this journey was undertaken to “test his eyesight” before driving back to London. This series of revelations resulted in a media storm and understandable outrage from the British public, many of whom felt cheated in having made many personal sacrifices to adhere to lockdown while the PM’s aide broke the rules.

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Despite a YouGov poll on Tuesday showing that 59 percent of the UK public surveyed believe that Cummings should resign over the controversy, Johnson has not only refused to remove Cummings from his official post, but actively defended his adviser’s actions, saying he believed he acted “legally” and “with integrity”. 

Notably, this is not the first time the UK has seen such hypocrisy from its government officials. At the beginning of May, Professor Neil Ferguson was forced to resign from the government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) following reports that he had repeatedly violated lockdown to allow visits from his married lover. Ferguson had led the team at Imperial College London that released computer modeling showing the devastating toll Covid-19 could have on the UK population if left unchecked, and which influenced the government's decision to impose strict lockdown measures, rather than pursuing ‘herd immunity.’

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