ight be one of Westminster’s best-known cliches, but David Cameron has learnt that a week is indeed a long time in politics as polls released this morning suggested that his Conservative party had taken the lead over Labour or had narrowed the gap on the opposition.
He was seen last week to be on a political precipice as first his close friend and former aide Andy Coulson was convicted of phone hacking and then European leaders shunned his demands to reject Jean-Claude Juncker as the next European commissioner.
But one of today’s polls, commissioned by Lord Ashcroft, shows the Tories two points ahead of Labour on 33 per cent, while a YouGov poll for the Sun had Labour on 37 per cent and the Conservatives on 35 per cent. A third, by ComRes for the Independent, gave Labour 32 per cent, while the Tories were on 30 per cent.
Polling analyst Mike Smithson said the positive result could be down to Cameron’s tough stance on Juncker. “These are Tories who have previously said they don’t know suddenly seeing their man getting publicity, seeming to be articulate and doing the right thing. They shift from don’t know to supporting Cameron,” he told City A.M.
Cameron breezed through a commons session on the EU decision. He said his stance against Juncker was: “a point of principle on which I was not prepared to budge.” But Labour’s Ed Miliband accused Cameron of “an appalling failure”.
The Labour leader is facing mounting criticism from his own MPs who are concerned about his poor personal poll ratings. A ComRes poll out yesterday suggested that just 19 per cent of people think he is the most competent leader, compared to Cameron on 33 per cent, Nick Clegg on 10 per cent and Nigel Farage on 11 per cent.
Cameron also received the backing of Germany’s powerful finance minister Wolfgang Schauble yesterday, who told the Financial Times that a British exit from the EU would be “unimaginable” and promised to do everything possible to keep the UK in the union.