Two years on from historic 2019 election, Boris Johnson retains appeal with Red Wall voters, say his MPs

Boris Johnson retains a “unique appeal” with voters despite his recent challenges, Tory MPs in Yorkshire who won so-called Red Wall seats in 2019 have claimed.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson pictured in December 2021
Prime Minister Boris Johnson pictured in December 2021

National polling has suggested the Prime Minister’s popularity has plummeted in recent weeks following allegations of lockdown-breaking Christmas parties in Downing Street last year and the Owen Paterson lobbying row which ultimately saw the Conservatives lose the previously safe seat of North Shropshire.

But Penistone and Stocksbridge MP Miriam Cates said Mr Johnson continues to retain “popularity and a connection with ordinary voters”.

She said: “People who don’t pay a lot of attention to politics in normal times, people who don’t obsess around opinion polls.

“He has a connection with those voters, and still does.”

Ms Cates was among about 100 Conservative MPs to rebel against the introduction of Plan B Covid measures, but she said she is unconvinced the Government’s current challenges will see voters switch their support to Labour.

She added: “The longer you’re in power, the more mistakes you have time to make.

“But what I would say is that Boris does still have a unique appeal with my voters, not all of them. Of course, there are people who are now apathetic or dissatisfied because of what’s happened over the last few weeks.

“Whether that translates in people actually shifting a vote from Conservatives back to Labour, I’m less certain of.”

Colne Valley MP Jason McCartney said when Mr Johnson came to Yorkshire in November to launch the Integrated Rail Plan, young people would go out of their way to come up to the Prime Minister and ask for selfies.

“Dozens of commuters were getting on and off trains and, people were pleased to see him,” he said.

“He is a politician that manages to break through all that bland and sterile sort of politics and connect with people.

“That’s one of his huge assets.”

Former lecturer Jason McCartney acknowledged that it has been “a very challenging last six months”, but believed that “we’re on the right track” and continued to fully back the Prime Minister.

However, Miriam Cates said it was important for the Government to deliver on its promises to ‘level up’ the country.

“We’ve got to make sure that these left behind communities are not left behind and feel that they have hope and aspiration for the future,” she said.

“That will be a combination of the hard stuff, and the small sort of the softer things that we’re doing.”