A new Ipsos MORI poll of Britons aged 16-75 finds that when asked: 71% of Britons think “there was party or gathering in Downing Street in December 2020 that broke COVID regulations”. 6% of Britons think there was not. 6% say neither. 17% say they don’t know.
62% of Conservative voters from 2019 and 87% of 2019 Labour voters think there was a party that broke the rules. 23% of 2019 Conservatives say they don’t know.
Elsewhere, evidence from the poll suggests that this story has had an impact on the public: 65% of Britons say they have been following the story either “very closely” or “fairly closely”. This is more than the 54% that told us they followed the recent budget closely in a poll taken shortly afterwards in October.
68% say they care “a great deal” or “a fair amount” as to “whether or not Downing Street staff held some form of Christmas party or gathering in December last year that broke COVID restrictions”. Two in five (39%) care “a great deal”. 29% say they care “not very much” or “not at all”. 2% don’t know.
Strength of feeling splits on party lines. 87% of 2019 Labour voters care either “a great deal” or “a fair amount” compared to 52% of 2019 Conservatives.
Among those following the story at all (very closely, fairly closely or not very closely), TV news is the most commonly cited source for information (68%). This is followed by social media sites e.g. Twitter, Facebook or other platforms (33%), online news websites (32%), radio (28%) and discussions with friends and family (25%).
In terms of where people get new about this story, there are some interesting (if expected) differences by age. For example, whereas 50% of those aged under 35 saw or heard about the story from TV new, a similar number (46%) saw or heard information on social media sites. In contrast, 8 in ten of those aged 55-75 that followed this story got information from TV news (81%), compared to just 20% from social media.
Commenting on the findings, Ipsos MORI Director of Politics Keiran Pedley said: “These numbers clearly show that the British public are engaged with this story, think there was a party, and they care whether or not COVID rules were broken. What is less clear is whether this story will do lasting damage to Boris Johnson and the Conservatives. Meanwhile, an interesting subplot in the data is how we consume our politics, with older age groups that followed this story largely relying on TV news to do so but younger Britons almost equally as likely to follow the story on social media”.