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Boris Johnson faces warnings from Tory party donors over ‘bleak’ economy

The Tories have been dealt a blow after Labour pulled ahead in a poll.

And party donors have lined up to accuse Boris Johnson of damaging the economy with his handling of the virus crisis.

The Opinium survey in the Observer put Keir Starmer’s party on 42 per cent – three points ahead of the Conservatives in the first poll lead since the dying days of Theresa May’s premiership.

It follows months of coronavirus U-turns which have seen Labour gradually creep up on the Conservatives.

Mr Johnson’s troubles deepened yesterday as donors criticised the PM after he announced fresh curbs last week, including a 10pm curfew for all pubs and restaurants.

Party donors have lined up to accuse Boris Johnson of damaging the economy with his handling of the virus crisis

Party donors have lined up to accuse Boris Johnson of damaging the economy with his handling of the virus crisis

Billionaire financier Michael Spencer, a big donor to the PM’s leadership campaign last year who has given about £5million to the party, said: ‘Being overly cautious is going to cost us economically a hell of a lot and I’m worried about the nation’s growth and recovery prospects.

‘There is a widely held sense that this is a somewhat rudderless government, that their handling of Covid has been at best overly cautious, at worst positively incompetent.’

And Richard Caring, the owner of the Ivy, Annabel’s and Le Caprice, has said the situation for the country now looks ‘super bleak’.

He said: ‘We really are at a crisis point, with very little direction. I’m afraid it looks super bleak. There’s got to be a trade-off that stops the economy being damaged to the point of no return.’

Richard Caring (right), the owner of the Ivy, Annabel’s and Le Caprice, has said the situation for the country now looks ‘super bleak’

Richard Caring (right), the owner of the Ivy, Annabel’s and Le Caprice, has said the situation for the country now looks ‘super bleak’

A third high-profile Tory donor, who did not want to be named, told The Sunday Times: ‘It’s back and forth, back and forth. We just need to know what’s going to happen. We all know we can’t expect good news, that’s fine, but what about understanding the general approach?’

The poll found Labour up three points on the previous Opinium poll, and the Tories down three. Sir Keir also pulled well ahead when voters were asked who would make the best prime minister of the two party leaders, with 36 per cent choosing the Labour leader (up four points), and 32 per cent preferring Mr Johnson.

At the end of March, after the full lockdown was imposed, the Conservatives were powering ahead on 54 per cent, 26 points clear of Labour.

However, another survey by Deltapoll for The Mail on Sunday found the Tories still had a four-point lead – 42 per cent compared with Labour’s 38 per cent. Nigel Farage, the Brexit Party leader, heaped pressure on the PM by saying he would not rule out launching a new anti-lockdown party, amid growing criticism and claims that the restrictions are a threat to personal and economic freedom.

Sir Keir also pulled well ahead when voters were asked who would make the best prime minister of the two party leaders, with 36 per cent choosing the Labour leader (up four points)

Sir Keir also pulled well ahead when voters were asked who would make the best prime minister of the two party leaders, with 36 per cent choosing the Labour leader (up four points)

Mr Farage said: ‘We stood aside for Boris Johnson’s Government, now many are questioning why we bothered.’

Charlie Mullins, the founder of Pimlico Plumbers, who has donated about £50,000 to the Tories, accused the Prime Minister of ‘losing his bottle’.

‘He’s under the weather. I like Boris but I think he’s burnt out and I don’t think he can come back from this,’ he said.

Phones4u founder John Caudwell, who has donated £500,000 to the Tories, called for an investment plan to create jobs to help the economy.

He questioned the government’s ‘long-term vision’, adding: ‘If we essentially just leave the economy to its own devices, the UK will not properly recover for another ten years at least.’

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