Boris Johnson says he will not return to 'failed model'
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Boris Johnson’s agenda is being challenged today as the Universal Credit uplift comes to an end this week. At the Conservative Party conference, red wall MPs have said Mr Johnson should ensure his “levelling up” agenda allows people to get a decent job and making a good living in the areas they grow up. Now a surprising poll from YouGov revealed Mr Johnson may be losing vital support in these red wall areas – to the point where his impressive majority could be almost halved if an election were held now.
The Conservative Party conference began in Manchester on Sunday and as the second day begins the focus will be the economy, with Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak giving a speech at 11.50am.
Mr Sunak is expected to announce a package of support for the job sector, at a time when the Government is under fire for cutting Universal Credit and for ongoing supply shortages in stores and petrol stations.
On October 3, Mr Johnson refused to rule out a further relaxation of immigration rules to help ease the UK’s fuel and supply shortages.
The Prime Minister insisted he does not want to see a return to “a lot of low-wage immigration”.
Speaking at the Tory Party conference, Mr Johnson said he is “getting on the job”, but the latest YouGov’s MRP model indicates support in the red wall was lower than the backing Theresa May had in 2017.
The MRP poll from YouGov found the Conservatives are effectively neck and neck with Labour in the red wall.
The modelling, which correctly predicted the 2017 and 2019 results, showed the Tories could lose as many as 18 red wall seats to Labour if an election were to happen now.
An additional 14 seats were judged as too close to call in the model meaning this could widen the red wall gap and see Mr Johnson lose further in this region, according to the poll of 10,000 people.
If Mr Johnson’s party lost the 18 seats, his 2019 lead would shrink to a majority of 44.
This would further drop to 30 if the party lost those additional 14 seats.
YouGov’s MRP model, which was conducted from September 17 to 28, revealed 50 Conservative sears are in the red wall heartland.
In particular, parts of the Midlands, northeast, northwest, Yorkshire and the Humber and Wales were identified as forming the red wall.
The poll found Mr Johnson’s party has support equal to 41 percent in this red wall region – a seven percentage point drop from the 2019 election and two percentage points down from when former prime minister Theresa May won the election in 2017.
This compares to 40 percent support for Sir Keir Starmer’s Labour Party – an uplift of two percentage points from the 2019 election.
However, Sir Keir’s predecessor Jeremy Corbyn had the backing of the red wall 10 percentage points ahead in 2017, on 50 percent.
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But it is not only the Opposition which Boris Johnson and Sir Keir Starmer have to watch out for.
The Green Party is at seven percent support in the YouGov model – which is a one percentage point rise from 2019 and 2017.
This means while Labour is significantly winning back red wall votes from the Tories, the party is losing out to the Greens.
The model projects four Conservative seats could be won by a margin of 10 percentage points or more – these include Redcar, North West Durham, Heywood and Middleton and Lincoln.
A few seats are likely to become Conservative including Colne Valley, West Bromwich East, Don Valley, Bishop Auckland and Ashfield.
Despite the Labour Party making gains, the vote share is now significant enough to make up for the massive losses in 2019 according to YouGov.
Patrick English, YouGov’s political research manager, said: “Seat losses to Labour are a result of a decline in the Conservative vote but do not represent a recovery in the Labour vote share, which is largely unchanged since 2019.
“That suggests that Labour’s position remains tenuous too and that the Tories still have the chance to bring red wall voters and seats back into the fold.”
Part of the reason why the Tory red wall is likely to be so badly impacted is because these seats will be hardest hit by the £20-a-week Universal Credit cut.
More than one in five of the population in the Conservative heartland is claiming benefits, according to iNews analysis.
These individuals claiming benefits will lose more than £1,000 a year when the increase ends, 18 months after it was first introduced.
More than 20 percent of working-age residents in Blackpool South, Burnley and Birmingham Northfield, all of which were gained by the Conservatives in 2019, claim Universal Credit.
Mr Johnson said it would be “inappropriate” to cut the UC uplift on Sunday – a decision which has caused unease among Tory MPs.
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