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Poll slump hits UK's Johnson in wake of Cummings scandal

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    Agence France-Presse

London, United Kingdom   /   Wed, May 27, 2020   /   04:55 pm
 Poll slump hits UK's Johnson in wake of Cummings scandal Dominic Cummings, special advisor for Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson reacts as he arrives at his home in London following the outbreak of the COVID-19, in London, Britain, on Monday. (Reuters/Hannah McKay)

Support for Boris Johnson has slumped by the sharpest fall for a Conservative party leader in a decade following the Dominic Cummings scandal, according to an opinion poll published Wednesday.

As the prime minister prepares to be quizzed by senior MPs later Wednesday over his handling of the coronavirus crisis and the scandal, a YouGov poll for The Times newspaper showed the Conservative lead over the main opposition Labour party has been cut by nine points in a week.

The survey put the Tories on 44 percent -- down four points -- and Labour on 38 percent, up five points over the past seven days.

The last Tory leader to see his lead fall by the same amount was David Cameron during the 2010 general election campaign.

A poll in the Daily Mail newspaper showed Johnson's approval rating had plummeted from 19 percent to minus one percent in just a few days -- despite leading his party to a comprehensive general election victory just six months ago.

It adds to a sense of growing revolt over the government's handling of Cummings, with nearly 40 Tory MPs demanding he lose his job, while one minister has quit in protest.

However, Cabinet minister Robert Jenrick, the housing, communities and local government secretary, backed the PM's top adviser on Wednesday.

"I think, is the time for us all to move on," he told the BBC, adding that Cummings had not broken any government guidelines.

Cummings drove his wife and young son on a 264-mile (425-kilometre) trip from London to Durham, northeast England, in late March during the height of the coronavirus crisis.

He later admitted taking a 60-mile round trip to a local beauty spot, to test his eyesight.

Britain is one of the worst-hit countries by the pandemic, with more than 46,000 deaths attributed to COVID-19 by mid-May, according to official statistics released Tuesday. 

Johnson's government, whose less comprehensive tally is updated daily, has counted 37,048 fatalities.