Will the Dominic Cummings scandal ruin Boris Johnson and the Tories?

This article first appeared at betting.betfair.com on 27th May 2020

One notable feature during this bizarre lockdown period has been the stark divide between Twitter and the rest of Britain.

Every day, the government press conferences have been scrutinised, debunked and generally ridiculed on the platform favoured by journalists and politicos. If Twitter was a visiting alien’s first impression, they might assume revolution was in the air.

Meanwhile, outside the bubble, the government and Boris Johnson have enjoyed sky-high opinion poll ratings. A ‘rally around the flag’ effect has taken hold. Various Facebook posts slating ‘negative journalists’ went viral.

Regarding another political angle, Keir Starmer earned rave reviews from the commentariat for his early performances at PMQs. Yet Labour failed to make serious inroads into the massive Tory lead.

Cummings has transformed the news cycle

Then last Friday, the Dominic Cummings scandal broke. My initial reaction was deep scepticism that the news he had blatantly broken lockdown rules would cut through, or force a sacking or resignation. I doubted the story had legs.

Five days on, it clearly has! Having doubled down in support of their man, tried to justify actions most consider unjustifiable and endorsed his flaky version of events, the government is fast turning itself into a laughing stock.

Tory critics growing by the hour

Douglas Ross became the first minister to resign yesterday – following Cummings’ widely derided press conference – and the number of Tory MPs calling for Cummings to resign is growing. More rebels are speaking out. Some prominent cheerleaders have turned.

Nevertheless, a doubt persisted that this would stay newsworthy. Until last night. Even the least political of newspapers can’t get enough of the story and the latest polls are frankly disastrous for the Tories and Boris Johnson. These Yougov numbers represent the biggest sudden drop for a decade.

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