THE Tories have suddenly surged into a four-point poll lead over Labour. Where did that come from?
It can’t be a personal vote for Theresa May after the grassroots revolt over her “polished turd” Brexit deal and her attack on Boris over burkas.
Bojo’s burkagate is set to run and run, but the PM should consider that his attitude jibes with a healthy proportion of the voting public
And since Labour is already at rock bottom, there has to be some other explanation.
Polls are unreliable, but could the answer be that BoJo has once again struck a chord, not just among Tory supporters, but with voters of all parties and none?
For the past seven days Johnson has been pilloried left, right and centre for his widely shared view that burka wearers look like letter boxes or bank robbers.
Not least, it has to be said, by ex-Chancellor George Osborne, who has turned the once-great London Evening Standard newspaper into a sewer of personal vilification against Boris and Brexit.
Getty – Contributor He may have poked fun at it, but Boris Johnson also argued against banning the burka in the UK Boris Johnson greets the media armed with a tray of mugs amid burka row
For all that, Boris seems to have hit a nerve. Far from destroying his chances of becoming Tory leader, this confected witch-hunt seems to have boosted them.
Tory voters have long been desperate for a politician who shares and expresses their views. Call it populism if you like, or perhaps democracy. But no other politician has this ability to reach out.
PM Theresa May says former foreign secretary Boris Johnson ‘was wrong’ over burka comments and has ‘caused offence’
Most voters are pro-Brexit and, along with supporters of all parties, profoundly unhappy with the way some Muslim women are excluded from society by some Muslim men.
To recap, BoJo argued against following France and Denmark and banning the burka, but warned it excluded wearers from society and was a barrier to assimilation.
PA:Press Association Labour frontbencher said she would not let a woman in a burka look after her children
It was a fair point, echoed immediately by eminent Islamic scholars and Muslim women who testified it was a symbol not of religious faith, but of male oppression.
More to the point, it is a view Boris, or indeed anyone else in this democratic bastion of free speech, should be free to express.
Denmark becomes latest European country to ban the burka and niqab
Many of those who tore into the ex-Foreign Secretary are embarrassingly on the record for far more scathing attacks on the full-face veil.
Met police commissioner Cressida Dick might examine historic crimes of alleged “Islamophobia” by puritanical Polly Toynbee in her Guardian column. Or the Guardian itself, which used the same “letter box” joke as Boris.
Rex Features Columnist Polly Toynbee’s employer, The Guardian, has itself aimed letterbox jokes at burka wearers
Or Labour frontbencher and ranking hypocrite Emily Thornberry, who says she wouldn’t let a woman in a burka look after her kids.
But this furore is more about Boris and Brexit than about burkas.
Bone-headed party boss Brandon Lewis, deluded by his own leadership ambitions, set Boris up for a ducking-stool trial — after pronouncing him guilty in advance.
Noble-thinking Tories such as Dominic Grieve and Anna Soubry threatened to quit Parliament if Boris became PM. It’s an ill wind, I suppose.
AP:Associated Press George Osborne seems set on spending his time laying into both Boris Johnson and the Tory Party
According to a ComRes poll, a majority of voters of all parties (53 per cent) oppose any attempt to punish BoJo for speaking his mind.
Even more — 60 per cent — fear free speech itself is under attack.
Polling guru Sir John Curtice warns any attempt to discipline Mr Johnson “could upset many of the people Theresa May needs” to remain Prime Minister.
Many members of Mrs May’s Cabinet have expressed the same view.
AP:Associated Press Theresa May would do well to heal the rift with Boris Johnson if she is to strengthen her position as PM
The Prime Minister needs to take a grip on this self-inflicted crisis.
The Boris witch-hunt must be called off today.
Mrs May needs all the support she can get as Britain moves towards an inevitable showdown with Brussels in the run-up to the March 29 Brexit deadline.
Despite friendlier noises from the EU Commission, there is still a chance of No Deal.
AP:Associated Press Boris may well have connected with the British public with his comments on the burka
Remainers would then demand a second referendum, a proposal already flatly rejected in Downing Street.
But there are no other plans on the table.