LONDON

Popularity for Britain’s ruling party has sharply decreased, a new poll revealed on Wednesday, as a further 412 people died from coronavirus across the UK over the past 24 hours.

The Department of Health tweeted: “As of 9am 27 May, there have been 3,798,490 tests, with 117,013 tests on 26 May. Some 267,240 people have tested positive.

“As of 5pm on 26 May, of those tested positive for coronavirus, across all settings, 37,460 have sadly died.”

A voting intention survey by pollster YouGov for the Times newspaper found that the controversy engulfing Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s aide Dominic Cummings, and Johnson’s refusal to fire him, has taken a serious toll on the government’s popularity.

Support for the Conservatives dropped by 4 points to 44% in less than a week, and the main opposition Labour Party increased to 38%.

Cummings is Johnson’s top adviser and is accused of breaking lockdown rules by driving 264 miles across the country.

He defended himself by saying he was doing the best thing for his family, as both he and his wife were becoming ill and had no one to look after their child in London.

His explanations have not significantly changed public opinion on the matter.

Both the opposition and members of the ruling party have called for his resignation.

“Tory (Conservative) lead over Labour has fallen from 15pts to 6pts in less than a week, according to the latest YouGov/Times voting intention survey,” YouGov tweeted.

“The majority of Brits (57%) say the media have been fair in their reporting of the Dominic Cummings coronavirus row. This includes 41% of Conservative voters,” YouGov said.

“70% of Britons – and 59% of Conservative voters – say the Dominic Cummings coronavirus row will make it harder for the government to get future lockdown messaging across to the public,” they said.

Better to move on

Johnson spoke at the House of Commons Liaison Committee, which includes the heads of all the parliamentary select committees. Local media describe it as a “super committee.”

Johnson announced the UK’s test and trace system will be up and running tomorrow. The system means anyone who has been in close contact with someone infected by coronavirus will be asked to self-isolate for 14 days, even if they have no symptoms.

The session was dominated by questions from the committee about the Cummings saga.

Johnson was asked why he has not ordered an independent investigation into the issue.

“I’m not certain, right now, that an inquiry into that matter is a very good use of official time,” he replied. “We’re working flat out on coronavirus.”

Johnson attempted to show he understood the mood of the country, saying: “I, of course, am deeply sorry for all the hurt and pain and anxiety that people have been going through throughout this period – this country has been going through a frankly most difficult time.”

“I totally understand public indignation,” he said, but added that “it would be much better if we could now move on and focus on the next steps.”

The pandemic has claimed more than 352,200 lives in 188 countries and regions since originating in China last December. The US and Europe are currently the world’s worst-hit regions.

More than 5.63 million cases have been reported worldwide, while as many as 2.32 million people have recovered so far, according to figures compiled by the US’ Johns Hopkins University.

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