Last month’s Salisbury poisoning prompted contrasting responses between the leadership of the Labour and the Conservative Party. Theresa May was quick to assert that Russia was behind the attack, stating in the days following that it was “highly likely” that Russia was responsible. Meanwhile, Jeremy Corbyn opted for a slightly more nuanced approach, warning the government not to “rush ahead of the evidence”.
BMG’s latest poll on behalf of the Independent can reveal that more Brits approve of the Prime Minister’s response and handling of the situation – and by some margin. Our poll of a representative sample of 1562 GB adults between 10th and 13th April asked how well or badly they felt Theresa May, Jeremy Corbyn and Boris Johnson had handled the aftermath of the poisoning of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter.
Just under half of Brits, some 46%, said Theresa May had handled the situation well, while just 27% saying she had handled the incident badly. 26% were unsure.
Approval of Jeremy Corbyn’s handling of this situation is almost exactly the inverse to the Prime Minister’s, with just 23% approving of his handling of the situation and 44% saying he has dealt with it badly. One in three said they were unsure (33%). Among those saying Mr Corbyn handled the situation badly are 28% of those who reported voting Labour in last year’s General Election.
And while Boris Johnson has ostensibly taken the same line as Theresa May on the matter, the Foreign Secretary was forced to delete a tweet where he had said that Porton Down had been “absolutely categorical” about Russia’s involvement, after Porton Down released a statement to the contrary. This so-called ‘faux pas’ may go some way towards explaining why Johnson is only seen as handling the situation well by 23% of the public, with 45% saying he has handled it badly.
Who was responsible?
The poll also asked Brits who they thought was responsible for the attack. Unsurprisingly, a majority (52%) said they believed the Russian state was behind the poisoning, although a high proportion, some 33%, said they were unsure. Just 6% said they believed that criminal gangs as being been behind the attack, with 7% saying they believed the British state or MI5 to be responsible.
Examining the results by voting intention, we find that those who intend to vote Labour appear to be more cautious about blaming Russia, with 30% of Labour supporters said they don’t know, compared just 21% of Conservatives.
The original article that reported on these results by the Independent can be found here
Methodology, fieldwork dates, and a full breakdown of these results can be found here.
For a more detailed breakdown of results from this poll, or any other results from our polling series, please get in touch by email or phone.
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Robert Struthers – Senior Research Executive