Labour and the Conservatives are tied neck and neck in the latest opinion poll following a slump in support for Boris Johnson’s party over the last five months.
The Tories had a 26-point lead over their rivals in March – when Jeremy Corbyn was still leader – and have led every voting survey by Opinium since July 2019.
It follows a series of government U-turns during the coronavirus pandemic, including its policy on this year’s A-level grades, free school meals and the NHS surcharge.
Labour’s deputy leader Angela Rayner said the Conservative slump in the polls was “not surprising”. She tweeted: “The Tories have been woeful over a range of issues that matter to the public, they have been incompetent, inept and useless. Staggering from one crisis to the next, U-turn after U-turn, Puerile excuses, Blaming others for their failures, it cannot carry on.”
Tory MP Charles Walker expressed frustration with the leadership, telling The Observer that the recent string of U-turns was “not a sustainable way to approach the business of governing and government”.
He added: “It is becoming increasingly difficult for backbenchers now to promote and defend government policy as so often that policy is changed or abandoned without notice. The climate of uncertainty it creates is unsustainable and erodes morale.”
The poll by Opinium, based on an online survey of 2,002 adults between 26 and 28 August, also found that Keir Starmer still has a net approval rating of +14 compared to Boris Johnson’s net disapproval of -8.
Meanwhile nearly half of voters (47 per cent) disapproved of the government’s handling of coronavirus, compared to 31 per cent who approved.
It also found that 48 per cent of British adults disapprove of Gavin Williamson’s performance as education secretary and 40 per cent say he is most responsible for the recent A-level turmoil.
With most schools reopening for the new academic year next week, 63 per cent of parents back the return of primary school pupils and 60 per cent support the return of secondary school pupils.
More than half of adults surveyed, 52 per cent, supported making masks compulsory for children in school, with 19 per cent opposed.
Additional reporting by Press Association
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