Raab grilled by hosts on Boris Johnson's mask absence

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Boris Johnson has been accused of cowardice and “running scared” after failing to attend Parliament for the emergency session on the sleaze row on Monday. During the three-hour session, MPs criticised the PM and his attempts to save his ally Owen Paterson from a 30-day suspension. Surveys and polls published in the wake of the sleaze row show support for the Conservatives and Mr Johnson have slumped to their lowest positions for months.

The Prime Minister’s approval ratings hit a record low this week according to a recent poll with almost half of voters in the UK believing he and his party were “corrupt” in the handling of the paid lobbying scandal.

The Conservative Party faced catcalls of “shame” from within the House of Commons and allegations of sleaze, bias and corruption from outside after Mr Johnson ordered his MPs to vote against the standards watchdog’s recommendation for Mr Paterson’s 30-day suspension.

He also ordered MPs to vote in favour of establishing a news standards committee which would rewrite the process which found he and other MPs have repeatedly broken lobbying rules.

In a recent Opinium poll conducted in the wake of Mr Paterson’s resignation last Thursday, the Tories had a narrow lead over Labour.

The Conservatives had a rating of 37 percent, which was down three percentage points from the previous survey and was one percentage point ahead of Labour, according to the poll conducted on November 5 and 6.

Mr Johnson’s personal ratings also slumped by four points to -20 with half of the respondents saying they disapproved of the job he was doing.

The Labour leader’s approval rating improved by one percentage point to -9 according to the poll.

The Government is currently facing a tidal wave of fury not only from opposition MPs but also from Tory backbenchers.

On Monday, Conservative backbencher and former chief whip Mark Harper voiced the outrage of these MPs, particularly those from red wall constituencies which Mr Johnson won over to the Conservative Party in the 2019 election.

He said: “Politics is a team effort. If the team captain gets their side — from backbenchers to senior ministers — into difficulty when they get something wrong, they should apologize to the House.

“That’s leadership. We need to see more of it.”

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But which Tory MPs are likely to take down Mr Johnson and succeed him as prime minister?

According to YouGov’s most popular Conservative Politicians data for Q3 2021, 34 percent of people had a positive opinion of Mr Johnson.

This placed him in second place behind his Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, who is two percentage points ahead at 36 percent popularity.

The next most popular Conservative politician is Theresa May at 27 percent.

Mr Sunak has also ranked as the clear and outright frontrunner for Mr Johnson’s successor in polls conducted by Conservative Home.

The Chancellor has returned a consistently high score from the platform’s panel when asked how he has managed the pandemic.

In the poll of 853 Tory respondents, Mr Sunak gained support to be named as the PM’s successor from 31.07 percent of those poll.

Only three candidates achieved support reaching double percentage figures.

The next highest rating was for Foreign Secretary Liz Truss, who was international trade secretary at the time of the survey in August, who won support from 12.08 percent of voters.

The final candidate attaining double-digit support was Penny Mordaunt, the Trade Policy Minister, who attained 10.79 percent support.

Polling expert Sir John Curtice said it is clear Mr Sunak is the frontrunner to succeed Mr Johnson as leader of the Conservative Party and PM.

Speaking at the end of last month, he said Mr Sunak had displayed a “special characteristic” critical to prime ministerial success.

He told the BBC: “In opinion surveys, he consistently outperforms all of his colleagues when people are asked whom they would choose as Johnson’s successor.

“It’s because he has the ability to hold people’s attention.

“It sounds good, it sounds persuasive, and as a result, people perceive him as a capable leader.”

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