Coronavirus: Confidence in UK government’s handling of pandemic plummets to lowest in world after Dominic Cummings scandal

More than half of UK voters think Boris Johnson’s administration has dealt badly with the pandemic, survey suggests

Andrew Woodcock
Political Editor
Monday 08 June 2020 16:24 BST
Dominic Cummings 'single-handedly destroyed lockdown' says Piers Morgan

Public confidence in the UK government’s handling of the coronavirus outbreak slumped to the lowest in the world amid the row over controversial Downing Street aide Dominic Cummings, according to a new international poll.

Just 41 per cent of Britons questioned by pollsters YouGov said that Boris Johnson’s administration was handling the outbreak well, against 56 per cent who said it was not – giving an overall rating of -15.

Out of the 22 major countries surveyed, only Mexico’s official response was rated equally poorly, with 40 per cent judging it good and 55 per cent bad, again giving a -15 rating overall.

The poll, conducted on 29 May, came a week after it was revealed that Mr Cummings broke lockdown by returning to work after his wife fell ill with suspected coronavirus, then driving to Durham and Barnard Castle rather than remaining at home.

The confidence rating dropped sharply over the course of the week from -6 seven days previously.

The week saw approval of the UK government’s performance drop behind other European countries like France, Spain and Poland and equal the 41 per cent approval for Donald Trump’s administration in the US.

The figures continued a lengthy downward trend in public confidence in the official response of Mr Johnson’s administration since it peaked at 72 per cent on 27 March, just days after the imposition of lockdown restrictions.

Matt Smith, lead data journalist at YouGov, said: “The UK government now has the joint-lowest approval rating for how they have managed coronavirus out of over 20 countries polled by YouGov.

“Just six of the countries surveyed gave their government a negative rating, and the British government ties with Mexico for the lowest public confidence in the steps they have taken against the disease.

“This will be a blow to the government at a time where maximum cooperation is needed in order for the lockdown to be eased, and marks a turning point in what had originally been high approval from the public."

However, Britons were becoming increasingly optimistic that the coronavirus situation is improving in the UK.

Some 76 per cent of Britons agreed on 29 May that the situation was getting better compared to 58 per cent on 15 May.

Britain remains among the countries where the public are least likely to wear face coverings, according to YouGov.

Just 21 per cent of Brits said they were covering their mouth and nose in public places, compared to 86 per cent of Italians and Spaniards, 77 per cent of people in France and 64 per cent in Germany.

Of the countries surveyed, only Denmark, Norway, Finland and Sweden saw lower levels of mask use.

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