Boris Johnson should resign, say four in five Scots as poll reveals Downing Street parties scandal 'hurts case for union'

The vast majority of Scots believe Boris Johnson’s time as Prime Minister should be over due to the ongoing ‘Partygate’ scandal, a new poll has shown, while the growing allegations of rule breaking and lying damages the case for the union.

Almost four in five Scots believe the Prime Minister should resign over the allegations that Downing Street officials held multiple parties during lockdown, including on the eve of the Duke of Edinburgh’s funeral, at least one of which was attended by Mr Johnson.

A majority of Scots (54 per cent) also believe the scandal has hurt the case for the union, the survey has revealed. The damning polling, carried out by Savanta ComRes for The Scotsman, comes a week after every single Scottish Conservative MSP backed calls from their leader, Douglas Ross, for the Prime Minister to resign.

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The figures pile further pressure on Mr Johnson after a chastening week and follow allegations from a senior Conservative MP accusing the UK Government of engaging in “blackmail” to shore up support for its embattled leader.

Almost four in five Scots believe Boris Johnson should resign over the Partygate scandal

William Wragg, the Tory chairman of the Commons Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee, said Government whips – those in charge of party discipline – had threatened to withdraw funding for constituencies of those who may be considering submitting a letter of no confidence in the Prime Minister.

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First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said such tactics would constitute “corruption” and called for an independent investigation into the allegations.

The poll, which interviewed 1,004 Scottish adults aged 16 and over between January 14 and 18, was carried out from the day after revelations emerged of an after-hours party at Downing Street held the night before Prince Philip’s socially-distanced funeral.

The survey has also suggested the ongoing scandal has made little difference to support for Scottish independence.

Voters remain split down the middle on independence, with support for Yes at another independence referendum sitting at 50 per cent – two points higher than in October.

Support for No is two points down at 50 per cent, with both Yes and No at 46 per cent when don’t knows (8 per cent) are taken into account.

This is despite the majority of Scots indicating the ‘Partygate’ scandals have damaged the case for the union.

Asked to what extent have the parties in Downing Street hurt the case for the union, 54 per cent of Scots said it had hurt either a lot or a little, while 35 per cent said they had not really or not hurt the case for the union at all, with 11 per cent stating they did not know.

The poll suggests, however, that Scots have lost confidence in the Prime Minister, with a majority also stating the attempt to cover up the Downing Street parties was worse than hosting the parties themselves.

A total of 78 per cent of Scots believe Mr Johnson should resign, with 67 per cent arguing other attendees should resign. A further 58 per cent say Martin Reynolds – the Number 10 aide who sent the now infamous ‘bring your own booze’ email – should also resign.

Half of those who voted Scottish Conservative in May’s Holyrood elections also state the Prime Minister should resign. However due to the size of the sub-sample, this figure should be treated with caution.

Chris Hopkins, associate director at Savanta ComRes, said the lack of a major jump in independence support was “perhaps surprising”.

He said: “A 50/50 split on the independence voting intention does present a bit of shift towards Yes since our last poll in October, but ultimately given the disaster the UK Government in Westminster is currently experiencing, one would perhaps expect support for independence to be higher.

"Indeed, many swing independence voters will likely weigh up in their minds the competence of both the Scottish and UK governments at any given moment to help decide how they’d vote at a future referendum.

"While the UK Government is in disarray, with four in five saying the PM should resign over ‘Partygate’, it’s perhaps surprising that support for Scotland to go it alone, away from the disingenuous nature of Westminster politics, isn’t higher.”

Mr Johnson’s apology in front of MPs last week is also considered by Scots to not be genuine, with 59 per cent stating it was “not at all” genuine, and 18 per cent stating it was “not that” genuine.

Just 5 per cent said the apology was “very genuine”, with 16 per cent arguing it was “somewhat genuine”.

While the Prime Minister continues to urge his detractors to wait for the results of the investigation by senior civil servant Sue Gray, the poll indicates Scots do not trust the inquiry to uncover the truth.

Just 6 per cent of voters trust the report “a great deal”, with 21 per cent trusting it “somewhat”.

A further 28 per cent “do not really trust” the report, and 38 per cent “do not trust at all” the report, which many argue could decide the future of the Prime Minister.

The poll is far more encouraging for Mr Ross, however, with the vast majority of Scots stating the Scottish Conservative leader made the right decision in calling for the resignation of the Prime Minister.

Mr Ross came under fire from members of his own party after making the comments last week, with Jacob Rees-Mogg calling the Moray MP a “lightweight”.

Mr Johnson also failed to defend Mr Ross when he was given the opportunity at Prime Minister’s Questions on Wednesday.

However, 79 per cent of Scots believe he made the right decision when calling for his boss’s resignation.

With rounding taken into account, a total of 60 per cent of Scots said Mr Ross had “definitely” made the right decision, with 20 per cent stating it was “probably” the right decision.

Just 5 per cent said it was “definitely” the wrong decision, with 10 per cent arguing it was “probably” the wrong decision, and a further 5 per cent stating they did not know.

Mr Ross is also backed by the majority of Scottish Conservative voters, with 60 per cent stating he was probably or definitely right to call for Mr Johnson’s resignation, although again given the size of the subsample the figures must be treated with caution.

At Holyrood, the scandal has barely impacted how Scots would vote, with the poll indicating support for the major parties has not changed by a significant margin since the election in May.

However, Scottish Tories will be concerned by a four point drop in their regional list vote, putting them firmly in second place behind Labour.

In the constituency vote, the SNP have dropped one point to 47 per cent, Labour static on 22, the Conservatives down one point on 19 per cent, and the Liberal Democrats up one point on 8 per cent.

On the regional list, the SNP and Labour are unchanged on 38 per cent and 20 per cent respectively, with the Conservatives falling to third place with a four point drop to 18 per cent.

The Scottish Greens are up one point on 12 per cent, with the Liberal Democrats also benefitting, up two points to 9 per cent.

Alba are up one point to 2 per cent, with ‘other’ static on 1 per cent, all compared to the last Savanta ComRes poll in late October.

There are positive signs for Scottish Labour in the poll, however, with Sir Keir Starmer seeing a major improvement in his overall favourability.

The figures show the Labour leader is now the third most popular politician in Scotland with a net favourability of -10, 11 points higher than the last poll and only behind Anas Sarwar (+1) and Nicola Sturgeon (+13).

By contrast, the scandal has damaged both the UK Government and Mr Johnson, with their net favourability dropping by 15 and 16 points respectively.

This puts Mr Johnson level with Alba leader Alex Salmond as the least liked politician in Scotland on a net favourability rating of -62, with 77 per cent of Scots stating they felt ‘unfavourable’ towards the Prime Minister.

Want to hear more from The Scotsman's politics team? Check out the latest episode of our political podcast, The Steamie.

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