Theresa May’s approval rating is now at -20%,
Theresa May has suffered a startling decline in popularity
since last month’s general election with a new opinion poll
showing 61% of voters now view her in a more negative light
than they did when the electorate denied her an overall majority on 8 June.
The extraordinary transformation in the prime minister’s ratings,
which were sky high in early April after she called the snap election,
has been accompanied by a rise in public respect for
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, according to a new Opinium survey for the Observer.
Corbyn’s reinvigorated party is now on 45%,
six points ahead of the Tories (on 39%),
which if replicated in a general election
would put Corbyn in a strong position to enter Downing Street
as prime minister if one was called in the near future.
On 9 April, May’s approval rating stood at an impressive +21%
(where the percentage of those who disapprove of her leadership
is subtracted from the number who approve) while that for Corbyn had sunk to -35%.
In an extraordinary turnaround, May’s rating is now at -20%
(with 31% approving her leadership and 51% disapproving)
while Corbyn’s has risen to +4%
with more approving of his stewardship of Labour (42%) than disapproving (38%).
May’s struggle to form a coalition with the Democratic Unionist party
and her much criticised immediate response to the Grenfell Tower disaster
in west London, appear to have contributed to her post-election slump.
By contrast a newly confident Corbyn was seen as having reacted better
to the tragedy and has enjoyed adulation from Labour supporters
and young people, including at last weekend’s Glastonbury festival.
May and Corbyn are now neck and neck when voters are asked
who they believe would make the best prime minister,
with 35% saying May and 34% Corbyn.
On Brexit, 41% now disapprove of the way May is handling the negotiations
on leaving the EU, against 32% who approve.
Some 47% of those who backed leaving the EU approve of her
handling of Brexit against 27% who disapprove,
while 56% of remainers disapprove and only 21% approve.
While 43% support the way Corbyn reacted to the Grenfell Tower, 23% do not,
and just 22% approve of May’s reaction, against 50% who are critical.
Robert Ford, professor of political science at the University of Manchester said:
“This new poll suggests that the remarkable swing in political fortunes
which began in the general election campaign has continued in the weeks after the vote.
Theresa May’s personal ratings have collapsed further, while Jeremy Corbyn’s have surged.
“There have been a few occasions when the public have turned rapidly
against a prime minister, for example Gordon Brown’s collapse
in support in the autumn of 2007,
when Vince Cable noted his “remarkable transformation … from Stalin to Mr Bean.
Ford said that plunging numbers for a PM while an opposition leader
surged in popularity was a rare occurrence.
“While this will further increase the pressures on Theresa May,
many Conservatives will be eager to avoid another election
now they are trailing Labour in the polls.
“Meanwhile, Jeremy Corbyn’s position in the party,
in serious doubt just a few weeks ago, now looks unassailable.
He is recording net positive personal ratings on a regular basis
for the first time in his leadership, and Labour’s poll share of 45%
is among the best the party has seen since the height of Tony Blair’s popularity.”