Tories fall behind Labour in ANOTHER poll amid sleaze row

Tories fall behind Labour in ANOTHER poll amid sleaze row as Boris Johnson’s former lover Jennifer Arcuri claims he promised to help her tech business to ‘win my love’

  • Opinium poll gave Labour a one-point lead over Tories – its first since January
  • Follows several polls last week showing the party leap-frogging Conservatives
  • PM faces accusations he promised to use political power to help Jennifer Arcuri
  • She claims he made offer to ‘win my love’ while he was mayor of London

Boris Johnson’s Tories fell behind Labour today amid a sleaze row engulfing his Government – as the Prime Minister was accused by a former lover of offering to help her business prosper.

An Opinium poll for the Observer gave Sir Keir Starmer’s party a tight one-point lead after days and days of accusations against MPs over second jobs and rental payments for homes.

It is the first time Labour have been ahead with Opinium since January and follows several polls last week showing the party leap-frogging the Conservatives.

At the same time Mr Johnson faced accusations that he promised to use his own political power to help US tech entrepreneur Jennifer Arcuri while they were in a relationship.

In a diary extract seen by the Observer, American businesswoman Ms Arcuri said he pledged to help her firm in order to ‘win my love’ while he was mayor of London. 

As sleaze accusations continue to harm the Conservatives one MP told the Sun the Pm should offer a ‘Liverpool apology’ – a reference to a mea culpa he was ordered to give to the city after insulting them as a junior minister in the early 2000s.

At the same time, the Department for Transport was forced today to deny that Cabinet minister Grant Shapps, a keen pilot, is using a lobbying body to protect airfields from development.

It is the first time Labour have been ahead with Opinium since January and follows several polls last week showing the party leap-frogging the Conservatives.

In a diary extract seen by the Observer, American businesswoman Ms Arcuri said he pledged to help her firm in order to ‘win my love’ while he was mayor of London.

Labour’s Starmer dragged into sleaze row over office use 

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer was dragged into the MPs’ sleaze row last night for allegedly using his Commons office for party political campaigning.

He faced claims that he may have broken the MPs’ code of conduct by using his taxpayer-funded office for ‘Call Keir’ Zoom calls.

The Labour leader was pictured in his Westminster HQ launching a programme of ‘virtual public meetings’ last year.

According to party supporters, that first event, in spring 2020, was followed by a second ‘Call Keir’ meeting in the Labour leader’s office in October last year.

The programme of hour-long Zoom meetings was advertised on the Labour Party website as events where ‘Keir Starmer will listen to and answer questions from the public’.

However, the Commons code of conduct states that ‘Members shall ensure that their use of public resources is always in support of their parliamentary duties’.

Last night, Harry Fone, grassroots campaign manager at the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said: ‘Taxpayers will be angry that facilities they have funded are being used for party political purposes.’

With the political sleaze row continuing to dominate headlines, the Sunday Times reported the Transport Secretary – who the newspaper says owns a £100,000 aeroplane – ‘set-up and diverted public money’ to a new team within the Civil Aviation Authority which is designed to lobby against planning developments that infringe on airstrips. 

The newspaper said objections by the Airfield Advisory Team had helped to frustrate Homes England’s plans for 3,000 homes at Chalgrove, an airfield in south Oxfordshire, while also opposing ambitions to build a battery gigafactory on Coventry airport.

But Department for Transport (DfT) officials said the team was not a lobbying body and instead provided ‘support to general aviation on a range of matters affecting their operations’. 

The Sunday Times article also suggested Mr Shapps’ flying hobby had ‘undermined’ Government efforts to repatriate Britons after the collapse of travel agent Thomas Cook in 2019, and had taken up ‘valuable time’ while the DfT dealt with post-Brexit and coronavirus travel disruption.

But a source told PA the claims were ‘utterly bogus and demonstrably false’.

Opinium also recorded a slip in the Prime Minister’s approval rating to a new low, with a net rating of minus 21 per cent.

The drop in support for the Tories since its botched handling of the Owen Paterson affair has been recorded in a number of polls in recent days, with a Savanta ComRes poll putting Labour six points ahead and a YouGov survey finding the rival parties neck-and-neck.

A separate survey by Redfield & Wilton Strategies on Wednesday put Labour two points ahead of the Tories.

The findings come after the Government attempted to rip up the current Commons standards system to delay former Tory cabinet minister Mr Paterson’s suspension for breaking lobbying rules, and revelations former attorney general Sir Geoffrey Cox voted by proxy while offering legal services in the Caribbean.

Mr Paterson opted to resign as MP for North Shropshire after 24 years after ministers U-turned on their standards reforms when opposition parties made clear they would not support them.

The messy handling of the affair has since thrust how much time and money MPs raise from second jobs back into the spotlight, along with scrutiny of second home arrangements.

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