Only a third of the UK population trust the government, according to statistics published this morning by the Office for National Statistics (ONS).
The survey was carried out in March as “Partygate” and high profile scandals involving controversies over government cronyism, rule-breaking, and lies dominated the political headlines.
Levels of trust varied by type of government institution, however: the civil service was trusted by 55% of those surveyed, and local government by over 40%. Political parties were trusted by just 20% of respondents.
Trust was far higher in public services: the NHS recorded 80% trust levels, followed by the courts and legal system (68%). Police and education each scored over 60%. High levels of trust were associated with high levels of satisfaction with services.
The ONS survey was carried out as part of a wider study involving OECD countries. This showed UK government trust levels of 35% (around 50% said they did not trust the government) were slightly below the OECD average of 41%.
Polled on political participation, 57% of ONS respondents said they had signed a petition, 56% said they had voted in the last local election, and 27% had boycotted certain products for political reasons. Just 18% said they had posted or forwarded political content on social media
That wasn’t meant to be Boris Johnson’s last PMQs. But it sounded as if, mentally, he has already checked out, and as if he has other plans for 12pm next Wednesday. That was one implication of his final answer to Keir Stamer, where he said:
The next leader of my party may be elected by acclamation, so it is possible this will be our last confrontation, it is possible.
So, I want to thank him for the style in which he conducted himself. I think it would be fair to say he has been considerably less lethal than many other members of this house.
It is perfectly true that I leave not at a time of my choosing, it is absolutely true, but I am proud of the fantastic teamwork that has been involved in all of those projects both nationally and internationally, and I am also proud of the leadership that I have given.
I will be leaving with my head held high.
No 10 are saying that Johnson does intend to do PMQs next week. But this did sound very valedictory, and it is possible, of course, that the No 10 press office has not yet been told about the trip to Ukraine, or the mystery bout of Covid, or some other hypothetical that might stop Johnson being PM next Wednesday.
Both of those sound more probable than the scenario mentioned by Johnson as a possible reason for another PM being in place next week – a decision by Tory MPs to elect a new leader by acclamation, bypassing the need for a vote of party members. There is precedent for this; it is what happened when Andrea Leadsom made the final shortlist of two and subsequently pulled out, leaving Theresa May elected party leader without a membership ballot. But Conservative HQ wants the members to have a say (May’s premiership arguably suffered because she had not acquired a personal mandate), and leadership candidates have had to promise that they won’t do a Leadsom as a condition for being allowed to take part. So what on earth was Johnson on about?
Sky’s Beth Rigby has wondered if this all part of strong-arming Liz Truss into No 10. But that would involve her getting onto the final ballot (likely, but not inevitable), and the other candidate (Rishi Sunak?) pulling out (very, very unlikely).
If that was Johnson’s final PMQs, it was bereft of anything solemn or deep. (Tony Blair produced the best PMQs departure quotes in modern times.) But Johnson was astonishingly upbeat and chipper, all things considering. It wasn’t a performance to persuade Tory MPs that they might have made a mistake, but it was a testament to his resilience. Keir Starmer had plenty of good jibes about the Tory leadership candidates, but today they just bounced off.
Sir Lindsay Hoyle, the Speaker, calls for the two Alba MPs thrown out of the chamber earlier to be suspended from the house. (See 12.05pm.) The motion is passed quickly and without opposition. That means they are expelled from parliament for the day.
Sam Tarry (Lab) asks about the murder of Zara Aleena. And there has been another attack on a woman in Ilford, he says. What is the government doing to end the epidemic of violence against women and girls?
Johnson says knife crime is a scourge. Allowing more stop and search would help, he says. And he says tackling rape is important to all MPs. The government has invested in measures to help keep women safe, he says.
PMQs is now over.
Catherine Haddon from the Institute for Government thinktank has got a plausible explanation for why Johnson earlier implied this might be his last PMQs. (See 12.20pm.)
It would not be at all surprising if Johnson were to decide to spend next Wednesday in Kyiv.
Rishi Sunak’s campaign team has responded with this to Keir Starmer’s implicit attack on him (over non-dom status) at PMQs earlier.
Patricia Gibson (SNP) says Johnson resigned after MPs who had supported him changed their minds. So why shouldn’t the people of Scotland be allowed to change their minds about independence too?
Johnson says he thinks the SNP is deciding what to do about Gibson.
Stewart McDonald (SNP) asks for an inquiry into the Panorama investigation into the killing of Afghans in cold blood by special forces.
Johnson says the government does not comment on special forces. That does not mean it accepts the allegations, he says.
Jack Brereton (Con) thanks the PM for what he has done to level up Stoke-on-Trent.
Johnson says Brereton is right. Stamer knows more about Stoke Newington than Stoke-on-Trent, he says. He says he wants to help people into good jobs. He leaves office with unemployment at 3.8%. When Labour left office, it was 8%, he says.
Jon Trickett (Lab) asks about a constituent who died waiting for hospital treatment. Does the PM accept we are living through an emergency health crisis?
Johnson says the NHS has a record number of people working in it. The key thing is to get patients moving through the system. Delayed discharge is making things very difficult for hospitals. That is why fixing social care is crucial, he says.