Who is handling the crisis better? Survey reveals government approval ratings across UK

The survey reveals attitudes towards the leadership of Boris Johnson, Nicola Sturgeon and Arlene Foster (photos: Getty)The survey reveals attitudes towards the leadership of Boris Johnson, Nicola Sturgeon and Arlene Foster (photos: Getty)
The survey reveals attitudes towards the leadership of Boris Johnson, Nicola Sturgeon and Arlene Foster (photos: Getty)

As different parts of the UK emerge from the lockdown at different speeds, a poll of more than 12,000 readers reveals that a majority believe that Boris Johnson has not handled the coronavirus crisis well.

The survey, carried out by JPIMedia titles across the UK over the weekend, asked readers a series of questions about the lockdown, and how the leaders have responded to it.

Rating the political response

It found that 35% of people think Downing Street has handled the crisis “not at all well”, with an additional 21% saying “not very well”.

Only 12% of readers thought the Prime Minister and his government had handled it “very well”, while 31% answered “somewhat well”.

When asked the same question about Nicola Sturgeon and the Scottish Government, 26% said they had dealt with the crisis “very well”, 45% responded “somewhat well”, 12% “not very well” and 8% “not at all well”.

This gives the UK Government a net approval rating of -13, compared to the Scottish Government’s +51 rating. Among those living in Scotland, the Scottish Government’s approval rating was slightly lower, at +48.


Arlene Foster and the Northern Ireland Executive scored an approval rating of +36, although 35% of readers from across the UK answered that they were unsure on answering this question. Based solely on those who stated that they live in Northern Ireland, the administration scored an approval rating of +44.

The proportion of readers who believe the UK Government has done a poor job of handling the crisis increased day-by-day over the weekend, from 51% on Friday to 63% on Monday. During this time the story about the PM’s adviser Dominic Cummings taking a trip to Durham broke in the newspapers and has dominated the news agenda since.

Clarity of the message

In recent weeks the messaging around the crisis has diverged across the UK. When asked how clear they thought the UK Government’s slogan of “Stay alert, control the virus, save lives” was, a majority (62%) answered either “not very clear” or “not at all clear”.

By comparison, the Scottish Government’s continued message of “Stay at home” was judged to be “very clear” by 80% of respondents.


Attitudes on the lockdown

The survey asked readers how closely they think people are sticking to social distancing rules in their area.

Overall, just 12% answered “very closely”, compared to 43% for “somewhat closely”, 28% for “not very closely” and 17% for “not at all closely”.

When asked how comfortable they felt about doing certain things again for the first time since lockdown began on 23 March, visiting family topped the polling with 69% saying they would feel comfortable doing so.

By comparison, 60% would be comfortable meeting up with a small group of friends, 37% would be comfortable returning to their place of work, while only 18% would be comfortable taking public transport.


Opposition to schools reopening

In total, just 22% would be comfortable sending their kids back to school, with 56% saying they were “not at all comfortable” with the idea, despite Boris Johnson’s plans to reopen schools in England from next week.

On leisure activities, 53% said they feel comfortable visiting popular destinations such as beaches, parks and beauty spots, 39% would feel comfortable going back to pubs or bars with outdoor areas, 32% would feel comfortable eating in restaurants or cafes, while just18% would feel comfortable taking flights to European holiday destinations.

Testing is a priority

As for the public health measures being put in place to control the spread of the virus, 66% said readily available testing would make them feel more confident in going out to public places, compared to 40% for a tracking and tracing app, and 37% for mandatory wearing of face coverings.


Readers were also asked what factors they thought would lead to a second wave of the coronavirus outbreak.

A clear majority of 73% think taking public transport poses a high or very high risk, compared to 51% for schools reopening, 45% for workplaces reopening, 27% for meeting up with a small group of friends, and 17% for visiting family.

Job concerns for many

Finally, a majority of respondents also admitted that they were concerned about their job security and income as a result of the coronavirus crisis.

Of the 51% who have concerns, 19% said they were “very concerned”.

A total of 42% of readers said they were still in paid work earning their normal income, compared to 8% who said their income had been reduced, 16% who said they were on furlough, 25% who said they are out of work, and 10% who preferred not to say.