Nigel Farage last night warned him that the public would not be fooled by a phoney Brexit. Jeremy Corbyn has pledged to put down a motion of no confidence against Mr Johnson’s government “when appropriate to do so”, and new Liberal Democrat leader Jo Swinson is a strong supporter of a bid to bring down the administration. Even Remain Tory MPs have hinted they may back such a vote. But a ComRes poll found nearly all those who voted Tory in the last election (95 per cent) said Mr Johnson should first have a clean shot at delivering Brexit.
Three in five 2017 Lib Dem voters (59 per cent) and half of 2017 Labour voters (49 per cent) agreed.
But if the Tories fight an election, they may be challenged by Mr Farage’s Brexit Party in every seat.
Warning Mr Johnson today against taking the British people “for fools”, the veteran Brexiteer says: “If any repackaged version of this [Theresa May’s withdrawal agreement] was to be passed, we would not regard it as Brexit in anything but name. The Brexit Party would fight any parties that backed it in every seat in the country.”
Mr Farage did not rule out a future electoral pact with the Conservatives to defeat Labour and the Lib Dems, but warned: “If they try to resurrect Mrs May’s treaty in any form, it is definitely no deal.”
By contrast, Leave.EU campaign co-founder Arron Banks urged Mr Farage not to field candidates against “members of the Cabinet and committed Leavers”, citing a “once in a lifetime opportunity to destroy Labour and elect a Conservative Party with a radical agenda”.
Boris Johnson must be allowed to get Brexit done, say voters
If they try to resurrect Mrs May’s treaty in any form, it is definitely no deal
He said about 80 Labour seats in the North and Wales “are vulnerable to the Brexit Party if the Tories agree not to stand candidates in them”.
Our poll also found that nearly six in 10 oppose a second referendum, including 24 per cent of those who backed Remain in 2016.
However, more than seven out of 10 who plan to vote Labour at the next election (72 per cent) and five in six (83 per cent) of those who intend to back the Lib Dems want Mr Johnson to stop the clock on Brexit by revoking Article 50 and hold a second EU membership vote.
Labour MP Kate Hoey warned her party risked “irrelevance” and “disaster” and condemned the “stupidity” of trying to make Labour a fully-fledged pro-Remain party.
She said: “Too many Labour MPs have had as their mission in Parliament since 2016 to undermine and overturn the decision of the British people. Those like myself, who voted Leave, are regularly called racist and fascist.”
Meanwhile, Mr Johnson yesterday gave failed London mayoral candidate Zac Goldsmith a role in the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and the Department for International Development.
Boris Johnson spoke to the nation about his Brexit plan this week
Brexiteer and novelist Nadine Dorries has a job at the Department of Health and Social Care.
The Tories are enjoying a “Boris bounce” following Mr Johnson’s arrival in Downing Street, the latest polling suggests.
The party has climbed three points to 28 per cent. Labour is down one to 27 and the Liberal Democrats are up two to 19, according to research by ComRes for the Sunday Express.
Meanwhile, Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party has dropped three points to 16 per cent.
The polls may be tight but Mr Johnson will be encouraged that an overwhelming majority think he will make a better prime minister than Jeremy Corbyn.
The research, which excludes “don’t knows”, shows nearly two-thirds (64 per cent) think he is the better man for the job. One in eight of those intending to vote Labour (13 per cent) and almost half of those intending to vote Lib Dem (47 per cent) agreed he would make the better PM.
He is favoured over the Labour leader by 87 per cent of Leave voters and 38 per cent of Remainers. Only 31 per cent of respondents thought Mr Corbyn would do a better job in No 10. The Tory leader will be glad there appears to be little sign of nostalgia for Theresa May as PM.
Nearly six out of 10 people (59 per cent) disagreed with the statement “I would prefer to continue having Theresa May as Prime Minister than Boris Johnson”.
Mr Johnson sought to build on his momentum yesterday by making his first big speech outside London. Before an audience in Manchester, he underscored his readiness to take the UK out of the EU without a deal as the stand-off with Brussels continues. He said people must “face the fact” that the EU is refusing to re-open negotiations on the withdrawal agreement and restated his demand that the controversial Irish “backstop” be scrapped.
He said: “I do not want a no-deal Brexit but we have to face the fact we’re being told, as we’ve been told for the last three years that ‘rien ne va plus’ – the deal is fixed and can’t be changed.”
He pledged that discussions with the EU would continue but said he believed “the people in this country would rather get on with it and come out on October 31”.
Aware that voters who will decide the outcome of the next election care about issues beyond Brexit, Mr Johnson promised a “£3.6billion ‘towns fund’ supporting an initial 100 towns, so they will get the improved transport and the improved broadband connectivity they need”.
Boris Johnson put Jeremy Corbyn to the sword in the Commons last week
He also set himself the challenge of tackling the social care crisis, saying: “Many people who have worked hard all their lives have had to struggle with the financial burden of care in their final years and they are being forced to sell their own homes.
“And the British people cannot understand why the health service is able to provide the same care for everyone regardless of income and yet the social care system cripples those with savings.
“For too long I think politicians have simply kicked this can down the road. I want you to know that can-kicking stops now. So I promise to find a long-term solution to social care… with a clear plan that will give every older person the dignity and security they deserve.”
Standing in front of Stephenson’s Rocket, he stressed his support for a faster rail link between Leeds and Manchester, and stressed his commitment to fighting crime.
But it is clear that Mr Johnson and his team are intent on sending a strong message to Brussels. Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay told the Sunday Express: “Our Prime Minister has made clear he will deliver on the mandate to leave the EU by the October 31. No ifs and no buts.
“As the lead negotiator, I want to inject a new lease of life into talks with Brussels. I am committed to driving Brexit through, deal or no deal. Brussels say that they refuse to negotiate – I hope they change their mind and sense this clear change
“While delivering Brexit has become frustrated by the goings on in both Westminster and the EU, we must never forget why we are doing this – to seize the opportunities of the 21st century with decisions made in the UK by those accountable to all the people of the UK.”
The PM may have hoped to enjoy a political honeymoon but not all of the ComRes findings will make easy reading.
The research highlights the challenge the Tories would face in winning an overall majority in the Commons. The polling suggests Mr Johnson could find himself leading a Tory group with just 278 MPs, compared with the 317 elected in 2017. Labour, which won 262 seats last time, would see its number fall to 255.
In contrast, the Lib Dems, who won a dozen MPs last time, would see 54 elected, ahead of the SNP (36), Brexit Party (five), Plaid Cymru (three) and Greens (one).
But Mr Johnson will take some comfort that 89 per cent of likely Tory voters, 83 per cent of those intending to back the Brexit Party, and 75 per cent of those who backed Leave in 2016 think he will make a good PM. But in yet more evidence that he is a divisive personality, 55 per cent of people agreed with the statement “Boris Johnson will make a terrible Prime Minister”.
Chris Hopkins, head of politics at ComRes, said: “As he begins his premiership we have seen an anticipated bump in Conservative support, generally at the expense of the Brexit Party.
“However, with a wafer-thin majority and the clock ticking towards October 31, Mr Johnson will do well to sustain or build on this narrowest of poll leads.”
● ComRes surveyed 2,029 British adults on July 24 and 25.