The party’s overall poll rating is up two points from last month at 31%, while the Conservatives are down three points at 38%. However, Labour still languishes behind the Conservatives on a range of important issues despite its modest improvement.
In a sign that the government’s uncertainty over Brexit and increasing rancour inside the Conservative party could have soured Theresa May’s honeymoon among voters, the prime minister’s net approval rating is down four points from last month at 14%.
The opposition leader, Jeremy Corbyn, has failed to capitalise – with his approval rating down seven points at -27%. Theresa May would make the best prime minister, according to 42% of voters, while just 16% opted for Corbyn.
While Labour is the most trusted party on the NHS, named by 53% of voters as their most important issue, the Conservatives command double-digit leads on immigration and the EU and Brexit, the two other leading issues for the British public.
The Conservatives, who have notably hardened their stance on immigration since the EU referendum, are 19 points ahead of Labour on 27%, with Ukip on 28%. May’s party holds a 19 point lead on Brexit, with 31% to Labour’s 12%, and a 26 point lead on the economy, with 42% to Labour’s 16%.
May and the Conservatives are most trusted by the public to lead Brexit negotiations, according to the poll, with 30% backing the party – down three points since mid-October – compared with 14% for Labour.
The biggest Tory lead over Labour, 37%, is on terrorism. Opinium’s online poll of 2,000 adults between 13 and 16 December came as Corbyn faced intense criticism from his own MPs over his decision to hire a former Sinn Féin worker to join his office. A number of Labour MPs have raised concerns that the appointment of Jayne Fisher as Corbyn’s head of stakeholder engagement would lend further weight to accusations that the Labour leader and his shadow chancellor, John McDonnell, are terrorist sympathisers.
Describing Fisher’s appointment as “a kick in the teeth” for traditional Labour supporters, one former Labour frontbencher said: “Working class voters are increasingly looking at these moves as deliberate insults. Have they even considered how this will be viewed in Manchester, Warrington and other places hit by the IRA?”
Ukip, polled for the first time since the election of its new leader, Paul Nuttall, are up one point at 13%. The Liberal Democrats are down one at 6%, despite their victory over Zac Goldsmith in the Richmond Park byelection and second place finish in Sleaford and North Hykeham. The Scottish National party is on 6% and the Greens on 4%.
Opinium surveyed 2,000 UK adults online, weighted to reflect a nationally representative sample, between 13 and 16 December
This article was written by Patrick Maguire, for theguardian.com on Saturday 17th December 2016 20.24 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010