Sunday 28 June 2020 4:05 pm

Sir Keir Starmer overtakes Boris Johnson as preferred PM

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has overtaken Boris Johnson in polling as the UK’s preferred prime minister for the first time.

An Opinium Poll out last night showed 37 per cent of people thought Starmer would do a better job as prime minister, compared to 35 per cent for Johnson.

Read more: Boris Johnson’s approval rating continues to plummet in new poll

Starmer has a +27 per cent personal approval rating, while Johnson’s is “narrowly negative”, according to Opinium’s head of political polling Adam Drummond.

However, the poll still had the Conservatives leading Labour in voting intention by 43 per cent to 39 per cent.

“Politically, the ‘new normal’ is that for the first time in over a decade Labour has a leader who outperforms their party while the Conservatives have a leader who underperforms theirs and the crossover in preferred prime minister is a reflection of that,” Drummond said.

The new polling comes after Starmer sacked Jeremy Corbyn ally Rebecca Long-Bailey from her post as shadow education secretary on Thursday, after retweeting an interview containing an antisemitic conspiracy theory.

Starmer sacked his former leadership rival after she refused to apologise for the tweet or take it down, prompting applause from many moderate Labour MPs and supporters and fury from the party’s hard-left faction.

Shadow cabinet members Jonathan Reynolds and Ed Miliband both came out today to strongly back Starmer’s “zero-tolerance” stance against antisemitism.

When asked by the BBC if Starmer was a better Labour leader than he ever was, Miliband said: “Definitely – we’ve seen that already.

“I certainly never had his approval ratings, I think he’s made a great start. I think he’s made a great start.

“I think he’s shown, not just competence, I think he’s shown the kind of seriousness this crisis demands. You know what I think of Keir? I think the more people see of him, the more people will see the integrity, the principle and the decency I know really well.”

The new Opinium poll also showed the public’s disapproval for the government’s handling of the Covid-19 crisis continued to plummet, with 59 per cent thinking the current levels of testing in the UK are insufficient.

Fifty-seven per cent disapprove of the government’s handling of the test and trace system and 54 per cent think the country is coming out of lockdown too fast.

Read more: UK coronavirus deaths jump by 186 to hit 43,414

“The scenes at Bournemouth beach and elsewhere over the weekend may have made an impression on voters with a big jump (from 46 per cent to 54 per cent) in the number saying the UK is coming out of lockdown too quickly,” Drummond said.

“Politically, many of the other figures are largely stable with approval of the government’s handling of the pandemic remaining negative and approval of specific elements like track and trace or testing remaining significantly more negative.”