Half of Public Still Unaware of Robert Jenrick Matter

July 4, 2020
Housing | Media & Press
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Last week, a poll by Redfield & Wilton Strategies found only 43% of respondents aware of recent events surrounding the Housing Secretary and a development plan in East London. Our analysis at the time suggested that the direction of the controversy depended significantly on whether or not public awareness of the case increased. Despite a degree of continued media scrutiny around the actions of Jenrick, the proportion that said they were aware of the controversy rose only from 43% to 50%, while the remaining 50% of respondents said they remain unaware.

When presented with information about the case and subsequent defence of his actions given by Jenrick, a clear plurality of 49% believed that the Housing Minister was wrong to approve the Westferry Printworks Development, while just 21% thought the decision was correct. These are very similar figures to our poll last week, when 46% of respondents stated they believed Jenrick was wrong and 21% felt he was right.[1]

Likewise, after the facts were presented to them, a strong plurality of the public (49%) thinks Jenrick should resign as Housing Secretary, whereas only 23% think Jenrick should not resign. Notably, a plurality (41%) of 2019 Conservative voters think Jenrick should resign, while 30% think he should stay in his position. This result is a slight increase in support for Jenrick’s resignation among Conservatives compared to our previous polling, when 37% thought the minister should go and 33% were in favour of him remaining in post. However, it is worth re-emphasising that only half of respondents were aware of the controversy surrounding the Housing Minister before completing the poll and having the facts presented to them.

Throughout the Jenrick situation, Downing Street have insisted that Prime Minister Boris Johnson has full confidence in the Housing Secretary.  Johnson’s official spokesman has repeatedly stated that ‘the Prime Minister considers the matter closed.’ When members of the public were asked in our poll this week what they believe the PM’s full support for Jenrick indicates, 44% of respondents stated it shows the weakness of his leadership, while 24% believe it shows the strength of his leadership. Meanwhile, 17% of the public don’t know what their view is about what the PM’s continued confidence in Jenrick indicates, and 15% think it demonstrates neither weak nor strong leadership. 

Although a plurality of 2019 Conservative voters think Jenrick should resign, only 29% of 2019 Conservative voters believe Johnson’s decision to stick by Jenrick demonstrates weak leadership, and a significant minority (34%) state that it shows neither weak nor strong leadership or that they don’t know what the PMs decision highlights.

Overall, although a majority of the public appears to think that Robert Jenrick should resign when the situation surrounding the development in East London is explained to them, there has been a very limited increase in public awareness of the case over the past week. At this point, therefore, it seems increasingly likely that the Housing Minister will remain in his post. However, while public awareness of the case might be growing very slowly, the Commons Housing Committee has asked Mr. Jenrick to appear before them on 13 July to answer questions about his involvement with the case, which may provide opposition MPs with an opportunity to re-gain press coverage and hold Jenrick accountable for his decisions.

[1] Note: The explanation of the situation was amended slightly between the two polls, in an attempt to portray the situation as neutrally as possible. Nevertheless, the change appears to have had little effect on the public’s perspective.

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.

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