By Kate Ferguson, Westminster Correspondent
BORIS Johnson is a flop with swing voters and reminds Brits of Pinocchio, a polling guru yesterday revealed.
Tory peer Robert Hayward said the leadership frontrunner is a “marmite” character who could put the Tory election chances at risk.
He said the next Tory leader must win over Brexiteers but also swing voters who do not feel strongly about the EU, if they want to stay in No10.
Lord Hayward said: “Boris is pitching to MPs at the moment saying ‘I am the one who will win’.
“What I’m saying is that you can’t stop at Brexit and win an election. You need Brexit voters, but you need the transfer-friendly voters as well.”
He added: “The polls show that a Tory Prime Minister or leader can’t win without Brexiteer votes, but you also can’t win without this middle ground, the people who are looking for good government.”
Lord Hayward found that a whopping 23 per cent of people who voted Tory in 2017 think Mr Johnson would be a “very bad” Prime Minister.
And the pollster warned there is “distinct antipathy towards Boris” in the Tory heartlands of the Home Counties.
He added: “He is a classic Marmite politician.”
The shocking revelations are a massive blow for Mr Johnson, who is the bookies favourite to succeed Theresa May as the next PM.
His entire leadership pitch is hinged on the promise only he can win over swing voters and keep the Tories in power.
But Lord Hayward rubbished claims there is any such “Boris effect”.
He trawled through the small print of three recent surveys by Deltapoll, Opinium and YouGov.
The Deltapoll quizzed voters on what Disney character they associated with the leadership contenders.
One in five said Mr Johnson reminded them of Pinocchio – the lying fairy tale character whose nose grows each time he fibs.
The next most popular answers were Goofy and Dumbo.