EU referendum: Boris Johnson matches David Cameron on 'trust', says ComRes poll

Exclusive poll for The Independent on Sunday suggests PM faces a formidable opponent in the fight for EU votes

John Rentoul@JohnRentoul
Saturday 12 March 2016 20:31
Support for Boris Johnson, left, is on the increase
Support for Boris Johnson, left, is on the increase

Boris Johnson, the unofficial leader of the "Leave" campaign, matches David Cameron on "trust", according to a ComRes poll for The Independent on Sunday. Asked who they trust more to do what is best for Britain, 35 per cent say Mr Cameron and 34 per cent Mr Johnson.

The poll underlines the importance of the Mayor of London’s decision to put himself at the head if the “Leave” campaign. More voters also think Boris Johnson decided to campaign for Leave “because he believes it is best for Britain” than “because he thinks it is best for his career”.

Although opinion is evenly divided – 41 per cent to 39 per cent – the level of support for the Mayor of London is unusual, given popular scepticism about politicians’ motives and the Prime Minister’s coded attack on Johnson: “I have no other agenda than what is best for our country.”

ComRes for The Independent on Sunday and the Sunday Mirror

Click HERE for larger annotated version of the graphic

The poll finds that more people say the best way to “deal with the refugee situation” is to leave the EU (46 per cent) than to stay in (33 per cent), but that national security would be stronger in (42 per cent) than out (35 per cent). Turkey’s application to join the EU is opposed by 50 per cent and supported by only 18 per cent – the remainder don’t know.

By a substantial margin of 48 per cent to 30 per cent, people expect their fellow citizens to vote to stay in the EU in the referendum on 23 June.

The poll makes sobering reading for George Osborne, the Chancellor, who presents the Budget on Wednesday, and who is Mr Johnson's main rival to succeed the Prime Minister. Asked about Mr Osborne, 41 per cent of voters say he has "done a bad job as Chancellor", while only 31 per cent say "good job". A majority, 51 per cent, say the economy is "no better off now than it was this time last year", while 31 per cent say it is "better off".

Asked about their "personal financial situation", voters are even less impressed: only 26 per cent say they are "better off", while two thirds, 66 per cent, say they are "no better off".

The only good news for the Chancellor is that he and Mr Cameron together are trusted to run the economy more than Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell, the Shadow Chancellor, by 45 per cent, while only 29 per cent trust the Labour leadership more.

The poll also finds that the public are evenly divided on the question of building more nuclear power stations in the UK: 37 per cent supported the idea, 36 per cent opposed. Men are around twice as likely as women to support new nuclear power (53 per cent compared with 23 per cent).

The poll finds the Conservatives leading by nine points when people are asked how they intend to vote, down from last month’s 14-point lead, but with Labour on 29 per cent, still below the 31 per cent share of the vote secured by the party at the last election.

ComRes interviewed 2,059 GB adults online on 9 and 10 March 2016. Full tables at the ComRes website.

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