Neither Boris Johnson nor Jeremy Corbyn did enough to claim a conclusive victory in their final showdown before next week’s General Election, according to a snap YouGov poll.
Despite going head-to-head for an hour during a second televised debate, polling suggested neither party leader managed to significantly swing public opinion their way.
The survey showed 52 per cent of viewers believed Mr Johnson was the victor while 48 per cent thought it was Mr Corbyn.
However, this result, as with last month’s debate, was within the research’s margin of error, so the pollsters were unable to say who the public thought came out on top.
Mr Corbyn was the winner when it came to being ‘in touch with ordinary people’, with 57 per cent of the vote, and ‘trustworthy’, with 48 per cent compared to Mr Johnson’s 38 per cent share.
But viewers thought Mr Johnson was the more ‘prime ministerial’ of the two, garnering 54 per cent of the vote compared with 30 per cent for Mr Corbyn, while 55 per cent found him more ‘likeable’.
Chris Curtis, YouGov’s political research manager, said: ‘Our snap poll shows that the public remains divided on who won the debate, just as with last month’s head-to-head, with most Labour voters thinking Jeremy Corbyn won, most Conservative voters thinking Boris Johnson won, and very few people changing their minds.
‘But given the Conservatives went into this debate in the lead, they will hope the lack of a knockout blow means they can maintain this until voting day.’
Health Secretary Matt Hancock claimed the debate demonstrated ‘clear leadership from Boris versus lack of leadership from Jeremy Corbyn’.
Speaking at Maidstone Studios, Mr Hancock told reporters: ‘There was no game-changer from Jeremy Corbyn and there was the clarity of the position (from Mr Johnson), which has been going down well on the doorsteps.
‘I’ve now been to 114 campaign visits and I can tell you that getting Brexit done so we can move on and deal with all the other things that matter to this country is a message that resonates from Penzance to Middlesbrough.’
Asked why Mr Johnson pulled his punches, Mr Hancock said the PM made his arguments ‘respectfully’ before adding: ‘We’ve had great clarity of message all the way through.’
He added: ‘There’s a perfectly good reason why Boris delivered the same clear message and that’s because it’s the reason we’re having the election and it’s because what we need to do for the country over the next five years.’
Labour’s shadow international trade secretary Barry Gardiner suggested Mr Corbyn had swung public opinion in his favour by exposing Boris Johnson’s unease with the truth.
Asked if the party’s leader landed the knock-out blow he needed to swing public opinion in his favour, Mr Gardiner added: ‘I think he certainly did and all you had to do is listen to the applause.
‘At the end you saw a Prime Minister, when confronted with a challenge about his own propensity to lie, fall back on some rather ludicrous joke about flagellating himself with his own manifesto.
‘The public look at that and think, “What’s this guy on?”’
Liberal Democrat Brexit spokesman Tom Brake said: ‘Tonight’s debate was British politics at its worst. Two leaders offering nothing new, nothing different and neither being honest about the pain Brexit will cause our communities.
‘Johnson and Corbyn both proved tonight that they are unfit to lead our country and frankly their own parties.’
SNP Leader Nicola Sturgeon said: ‘It is clearer than ever that neither of these men should be able to determine Scotland’s future – they both represent a danger to our NHS and economy with their disastrous plans to ignore Scotland and drag us out of the EU against our will.
‘Boris Johnson’s repeated attempts to con the public over his devastating Brexit deal and his failure to acknowledge the mistruths that have characterised his campaign demonstrate precisely why he is unfit for office.’