The poll also found that over two-thirds of voters, including more than half of Tories, want Mr Cummings kicked out of Downing Street. The Tories find themselves just four points ahead of Keir Starmer’s Labour Party, having enjoyed a huge 26-point lead just two months ago. In the past week alone, the Prime Minister has seen support for his embattled party drop by eight points, as some voters express anger at his refusal to sack his top adviser.
The survey was carried out by Opinium for the Observer on Thursday and Friday of last week, after Mr Johnson said it was time for the country to “move on” from the controversy.
However, Mr Cummings’ refusal to either apologise or step down from his position after breaching lockdown rules in late March has caused widespread anger.
A resounding 81 percent of respondents think the Prime Minister’s key adviser broke the rules, when he drove his wife and four-year-old son to his parent’s estate in Durham.
Mr Cummings said that he took the decision to ensure that his child could be properly cared for in the event that he and his wife became too ill from coronavirus to look after him.
BORIS JOHNSON has seen support for his government collapse
Over two-thirds of voters, including more than half of Tories, want Mr Cummings kicked out
He has repeatedly insisted that he acted both legally and reasonably.
The Prime Minister has backed up his key ally, claiming he acted “responsibly and legally and with integrity” and that “people will have to make up their own minds”.
But in a major blow for Mr Johnson, the majority of respondents (67 percent) told Opinium they did not believe Mr Cummings explanations.
As many as 68 percent said Mr Cummings should resign and if he refused to go, 66 percent thought the Prime Minister should sack him.
As many as 68 percent said Mr Cummings should resign
More worryingly for Number 10, just over half of respondents think Mr Cummings actions will make the fight against coronavirus harder.
It comes as the government introduced its test, trace and isolate scheme , in an attempt to prevent a second infectious wave of the deadly virus.
The Government has hired 25,000 contact tracers, who will work with around 5,000 clinicians and the 20,000 people already working in the coronavirus testing programme to run the system.
It will rely on people following the rules and informing the NHS when they have symptoms, and those who have been around them sticking to the strict 14-day quarantine period.
It comes as the government introduced its test, trace and isolate scheme
It will rely on people following the rules
Initially it will be launched without any fines or penalties in place for not complying, but Mr Hancock does have the power to impose them if the public does not abide by the rules.
Mr Johnson said: “This is something where we’re relying on people’s public spiritedness, on their willingness to cooperate and defeat the disease.”
He said in other areas, such as tracing HIV infections, the system does work, and therefore he is “confident” it will for Covid-19 too.
But the PM added “of course we would keep sanctions on the table”.
Behavioural scientists have expressed concern that the Dominic Cummings affair may have undermined the government’s ability to persuade people to comply with the new rules.
Susan Michie, a health psychologist at University College London, said the incident had damaged the sense of collective solidarity so vital in maintaining public trust and compliance.
“The actions of Cummings, and of Johnson and other cabinet ministers subsequently, have been perceived by the UK public to show that there is one rule for those close to the government and another for the rest of us – i.e., a lack of fairness and equity,” she said.
THe government is desperate to avoid a second wave of infections
“This is extremely damaging, as collective solidarity is very important for maintaining trust.”
Trust and respect are also important, said Stephen Reicher, a behavioural scientist at the University of St Andrews.
“The literature on why people obey authority shows very clearly that a critical factor is the sense that one is trusted, respected and listened to by authority,” he argued.
Adherence to restrictions is “critically undermined when this is replaced by a sense of ‘us’ and ‘them’ – one law for us, another for them”.