People in Yorkshire are unenthusiastic about the prospect of either Boris Johnson or Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn as Prime Minister, with nearly half fearing neither would act in the best interests of the region.
Polling published today in The Yorkshire Post shows that Tory Mr Johnson is trusted by more people to act in the best interests of Yorkshire than Mr Corbyn, despite Labour looking likely to get more votes than the Conservatives across the region.
Some 27 per cent of the 1,010 people in Yorkshire polled said they trusted Mr Johnson more, with support more likely among men and over 65s. Mr Corbyn was preferred by just 21 per cent, with his popularity higher among the young. But 43 per cent said they trusted neither to act in the best interests of Yorkshire.
The results of the polling carried out by Survation for the Post and reputation and government affairs firm Bradshaw Advisory had more bad news for Tory and Labour officials ahead of an expected election in the coming months, where a number of key Yorkshire marginals are in play.
Support for both parties in Yorkshire has slumped since the last election 2017, with the Conservatives seeing their vote share drop by 12.5 per cent and Labour by 11 per cent. The Brexit Party and Liberal Democrats are the expected beneficiaries of the slump as voting patterns are skewed by Brexit uncertainty.
The results on voting intention were weighted based on how likely respondents were to vote, with ‘undecideds’ taken out. And they show the threat posed by the Brexit Party to Conservative hopes of gaining a majority if, as expected, a General Election ends up being the result of the current Brexit deadlock.
Nigel Farage’s newly-formed organisation is set to get 16 per cent of the vote in Yorkshire, including nearly a quarter of those who voted Conservative at the 2017 election.
Meanwhile the Liberal Democrats, buoyed by several recent defections by Remainer MPs and hoping to add another at the Sheffield Hallam by-election later this year, are predicted to get 13 per cent of the vote. This includes 11 per cent of those voted Labour in 2017, when the Lib Dems gained just five per cent of the vote region-wide.
The same poll showed that fewer than three out of ten people in Yorkshire have faith in Mr Johnson’s promise to deliver improved transport links in the North
According to Daral Williams from Survation: “We can see that only 56 per cent of 2017 Conservative voters think Johnson would be more likely to act in Yorkshire’s best interests; for Corbyn and 2017 Labour voters, it’s only 43 per cent. Even with people currently intending to vote for those parties, the leaders aren’t doing much better: 53 per cent of current Labour voters trust Corbyn most, 63 per cent of current Conservatives go for Johnson.
“The lack of trust Conservative voters have in Johnson is also evident in the question where just over half (51 per cent) of current Conservatives think the Government is likely to deliver on Johnson’s promise of improved transport links in the North. All together it suggests that the standing of the major parties in Yorkshire is in spite of their leaders, not because of them.”
Personal approval for the two party leaders varied across the Yorkshire, with 37 per cent of respondents in North Yorkshire backing Mr Johnson compared with only 20 per cent in East Yorkshire.
Mr Corbyn’s support was highest in East Yorkshire - 35 per cent - while only 17 per cent of people in Labour-dominated South Yorkshire thought he would act in their best interests.
Thirsk and Malton MP Kevin Hollinrake, a Conservative, said: “Regardless of political allegiance, I have lost count of the times on the doorstep people have said to me that if Jeremy Corbyn ever became PM they would leave the country.”
Labour declined to comment but a party source said: “In 2017, under Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership, we won the biggest increase in Labour’s vote share since 1945 and took away the Tories’ majority.
“Whenever the next general election comes Labour will offer a real choice between a Conservative government run in the interests of the few, the rich and the corporate elite, and a Labour government that will invest in the north and transform our region and our country.”
Jake Pugh, Brexit Party MEP for Yorkshire, said: “The good people of Yorkshire are understandably deeply sceptical of Boris Johnson suddenly being interested in the North.
“Whilst we in The Brexit Party are somewhat flattered the fact he has sought to copy so many of our policy announcements, including those around infrastructure investment, anyone with an iota of common sense is right to remain skeptical of the Tories.”
Laura Gordon, the Lib Dems’ candidate for Sheffield Hallam, said: “People have historically low levels of trust in the Prime Minister and the leader of the Opposition as they have had time to get to know them. The people of Yorkshire have renewed faith in the Liberal Democrats as they have delivered a clear consistent message on the issues that have affected them most since the last General Election.”