Jeremy Corbyn must have enjoyed these last two weeks.
After spending the best part of two years being hammered by the press, the public, and members of his own party, every minute since that exit poll dropped at 10pm on 8 June must have felt like vindication. Since that moment, everything has changed for him.
Among his supporters he’s become even more of a cult figure than he was before, while he continues to win more and more doubters over by the day – his party leads the Tories by six points according to the latest Survation poll (45% to 39%), and now for the first time, he has overtaken Theresa May as the public’s choice for the best prime minister.
A YouGov survey found that 35% of respondents said that Corbyn would make the best prime minister, with 34% backing May. 30% still said they were unsure.
This is quite the turnaround even from the eve of the election, when 32% of people backed Corbyn, but May’s figure sat at a far higher 43% – suggesting this new poll is as much about May’s failings as it is Corbyn’s successes.
Much of this sentiment could be down to the two leaders’ respective approaches to recent tragedies – in particular the Grenfell Tower fire. Corbyn was praised for meeting, speaking with and embracing the victims, while May refused to meet any of them the first time she visited, opting only for a photo opp with the firefighters.
Her team cited safety reasons for this decision, but this argument was made to look more than a little silly when the Queen went to meet the victims the following day.
May was then forced to return to Grenfell to meet the families, and has since apologised for the event itself, saying on Wednesday: “That was a failure of the state, local and national, to help people when they needed it most. As prime minister I apologise for that failure. And as prime minister I’ve taken responsibility for doing what we can to put things right.”
Corbyn, meanwhile, has been having quite a lot of fun in parliament since politicians made their return to the Commons. On the first day back he labelled May’s government the new ‘coalition of chaos’, and said the Labour Party was ready to step in to provide ‘strong and stable leadership in the national interest’ should the Tories fail to reach an agreement with the DUP – using both of May’s campaign slogans against her.
And then on Wednesday, he made another quip at May, telling her: “I hope the prime minister will correct the mistakes of the former home secretary” – the former home secretary of course being May herself.
The Tories are yet to reach a formal agreement with the DUP but have already put forward their Queen’s Speech, in which many key manifesto pledges such as ditching free school meals and re-legalising fox hunting were omitted.
They are expected to get the support of the Northern Irish party when the time comes to vote on that speech, but if another election does appear on the horizon, Corbyn and his party seem primed to jump.