Majority of Britons say Boris Johnson should resign, in aftermath of ‘partygate’ fines

New Ipsos poll shows that Britons think Boris Johnson should resign as prime minister by a 2:1 margin.

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  • Keiran Pedley Public Affairs
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  • Britons think Johnson should resign by a 2 to 1 margin
  • But signs Conservative voters rallying behind Prime Minister
  • 73% following ‘partygate’ fines story closely – up 14 points from early April
  • But public still following stories on Ukraine (88%) and cost of living more closely (90%)
  • Whether the PM followed COVID laws and regulations more important to his critics than supporters

To what extent, if at all, would you support or oppose Boris Johnson resigning as Prime Minister? - Ipsos

New polling of the British public on Tuesday (12th) and Wednesday (13th) this week in the aftermath of the Prime Minister being issued with a Fixed Penalty Notice shows that Britons think Boris Johnson should resign by a 2:1 margin. 54% would support the Prime Minister resigning and 27% would oppose. Support for his resignation is unchanged from a similar poll taken April 1st to 3rd, which asked what people thought he should do if he received a fine.

Meanwhile, there are some signs Conservative voters from 2019 are rallying behind the Prime Minister. 48% now oppose his resignation compared to 37% at the beginning of the month.

Half, 51%, also think Chancellor Rishi Sunak should now resign compared to 25% who oppose this. Conservative voters from 2019 are more split on the Chancellor than the PM with 37% supporting his resignation and 40% opposing it.

How closely are the public following the story?

  • 73% are closely following news stories about fines being issued as part of the police inquiry into Downing Street parties that broke COVID rules (+14 points from early April)
  • Meanwhile, 90% are following stories about the cost of living closely (+4 points) and 88% are following stories about the Russian invasion of Ukraine closely (+6pts).

Johnson / Sunak job approval

  • Little immediate change in Boris Johnson’s job approval compared to February. 31% of Britons think he is doing a good job as PM (+2 pts) and 51% say he is doing a bad job (-3 pts).
  • However, 44% now think Rishi Sunak is doing a bad job as Chancellor (+7 pts from the beginning of April) and 29% say he is doing a good job (-1 pt). Given recent headlines, this trend is likely to not just be driven by the fine the Chancellor received this week.

What impacts public perceptions of Johnson?

  • When asked how important various factors are when deciding whether they are favourable or unfavourable towards Boris Johnson, the top two most important are the rising cost of living (83%) and the government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic (81%).
  • However, whether Johnson followed COVID laws and regulations during the pandemic is growing in importance. 72% now consider this an important factor in their judgement of Johnson – up 8 points from early April.
  • Meanwhile, for those with a negative opinion of the Prime Minister i.e. those thinking he is doing a bad job, his following of COVID rules during the pandemic is about as important (82%) as how he handles the cost of living (85%) or the pandemic response (81%) and more important than his response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine (76%).
  • Among those that think he is doing a good job as PM just 6 in 10 (60%) think his following of COVID laws and regulations is important.

How important or unimportant is it to you, if at all, how Boris Johnson has dealt with the following when deciding whether you are favourable or unfavourable towards him?

Keiran Pedley, Director of Politics at Ipsos said:

These numbers reflect a complex picture for the Prime Minister. Whilst the public think he should resign over ‘partygate’ fines by a two to one margin, there are some signs that 2019 Conservative voters are rallying around him, at least to an extent. Meanwhile, whilst public interest in the ‘partygate’ affair has understandably grown given recent events, the public still say they are following stories about the rising cost of living and the Russian invasion of Ukraine more closely, with both considered important factors in how he is judged politically.
We know Johnson polls relatively well on his response to Ukraine but less well on cost of living, whilst it is also clear that those with a negative opinion of him place a great deal of importance in the ‘partygate’ affair. What is clear is the Prime Minister heads into Easter fighting fires on many fronts politically.

Technical note

Ipsos interviewed a representative sample of 1,034 British adults aged 16-75 online on 12th and 13th April 2022 using the Ipsos Digital Omnibus. Data are weighted to match the profile of the population. All polls are subject to a wide range of potential sources of error. Note: trend numbers for Boris Johnson’s resignation differ from those published here. Numbers above compare samples of Britons aged 16-75 and 18-75 whereas previous poll was of all adults aged 18+ (including a boost of respondents aged 75+). Trend data updated to remove the 75+ cohort from the previous poll.

The author(s)

  • Keiran Pedley Public Affairs

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