In 2019, the Conservative Party led by Boris Johnson won the biggest Conservative majority since 1987. The size of the party’s victory, combined with the fact that Labour had sunk to the party’s worst result since 1935, left some commentators wondering if the Conservatives would ever lose another election.

However, just four and a half years later, the Conservatives face political annihilation in the General Election tomorrow, with Labour enjoying a 19% lead in our final pre-election voting intention poll and with both Reform UK and the Liberal Democrats poised to make gains at the Conservatives’ expense.

The re-emergence of Boris Johnson on the penultimate day of the campaign serves as a reminder of how far the Conservative Party’s fortunes have fallen since he led them to their landslide win in December 2019.

With Labour now on the cusp of regaining power, the Conservative inquest into where the party went wrong has already started. For some, including Boris Johnson loyalists, it was the decision to remove Johnson from Downing Street in July 2022 which began the party’s downward spiral, an argument that conveniently underplays the increasing poll deficit the Conservatives were already facing by the time Johnson was removed.

Last week, Redfield and Wilton Strategies asked British voters their retrospective thoughts on Boris Johnson’s resignation as Prime Minister and whether he has any political future. 

Overall, 51% of voters believe that the Conservative Party made the right decision in asking Boris Johnson to resign, compared to only 31% who believe the decision was wrong.

The percentage of voters who believe that the decision to ask Johnson to resign was right has increased since we first asked the question in October 2022, in the immediate aftermath of Liz Truss’ announcement of her resignation, from 47%. The percentage of voters who believe it was the wrong decision has, meanwhile, decreased from 37%.

However, opinion on the decision has stayed remarkably consistent since we last asked the question in March 2023 in polling done for The Mirror. At the time, 53% of voters believed it was the right decision as opposed to 31% who believed it was the wrong decision.

A narrow plurality of 45% of 2019 Conservative voters believe that it was wrong for the Conservative Party to ask Boris Johnson to resign, as opposed to 43% who believe that it was the right decision. 

In addition, 54% of those who intend to vote for Reform UK in the upcoming General Election believe that it was wrong for the Conservative Party to ask Boris Johnson to resign. Those who have stuck with the Conservative Party, by contrast, are more likely to view the decision as right (45%) than wrong (39%), as do likely voters for all other parties. 

33% of voters believe that the country would be in a worse place if Boris Johnson had not been asked to resign. 29% believe that the country would be in about the same place, and 26% believe that the country would be in a better place had Boris Johnson not been asked to resign.

This latest result is a definite shift from when this question was first asked in October 2022 (again, in the week after Truss resigned), where a small plurality of 39% said the country would be in a better place had Boris Johnson not been asked to resign. At that time, only 21% said it would be in a worse place and 30% said it would be about the same.

But it has only slightly changed since we last asked this question in March 2023. In that poll, 31% of voters said the country would be in a worse place, 25% said they believe it would be in a better place, and 32% said it would be about the same.

Slightly more likely Reform UK voters believe the country would be a better place if Boris Johnson had not been asked to resign compared to likely Conservative voters, with 42% of this cohort saying that they believe the UK would be a better place against 47% saying that they believe it would be in a worse place or about the same.

40% of likely Conservative voters think the country would be in a better place if Boris Johnson had not been asked to resign, against 51% who think it would have been in a worse place or about the same.

Finally, voters were asked whether they thought Boris Johnson could make a political comeback, regardless of whether they wanted such an event to occur. A majority (51%) think that Johnson cannot make a political comeback, whereas a third (33%) think that he can.

These figures have not changed significantly since this question was last asked in June 2023, shortly after Boris Johnson resigned as an MP, when we found 52% of voters believed that Boris Johnson cannot make a political comeback

At present, a majority (55%) of prospective Conservative voters do believe that Johnson can make a political comeback, as opposed to 35% who believe that he cannot.

By comparison, despite being the group of voters most likely to say Johnson’s removal from office was wrong, likely Reform UK voters are slightly more likely to not see a political return as possible. 44% of these voters think that Johnson cannot make a political comeback, and 40% think that he can.

To find out more information about this research contact our research team. Redfield & Wilton Strategies is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules. Follow us on Twitter

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