Bpix_2A new BPIX poll for the Mail on Sunday (the first since before May’s local elections) puts the Conservatives at 41%.  In contrast to other recent polls (ICM and MORI) which suggested a narrowing of the Tory lead this survey shows the Tory lead up to 10%.  The LibDems are at just 15% – the lowest since Ming became his party’s leader.

The poll is also devastating for John Prescott.  Only 19% of those questioned think Mr Prescott is very able or competent.  26% think he is incompetent and 45% think he is a buffoon.

76% have no confidence in Mr Prescott’s ability to run the country when Tony Blair goes on holiday next month.  The Mail on Sunday sums up the nation’s attitude in a leader:

"Try saying the words ‘John Prescott is Deputy Prime Minister’ out loud without laughing.  It is increasingly difficult.  The man has become a figure of fun.  Yet, this summer, this figure of fun will officially take over running the country while Tony Blair is on holiday.  That will be no joke."

John Prescott has held on to his job because both Brown and Blair regard him as essential for ‘the handover’.  But Labour insiders know that the constant drip-drip of bad news is causing deep damage to the Government.  Another danger for Labour if Prescott goes is that he’ll write a "warts ‘n’ all" book about his time as Deputy PM.  The Sunday Mirror reports that he has been offered £2m to do just that.

There is increasing talk within Labour circles of Mr Prescott stepping down as Deputy PM but continuing as Deputy Labour Leader (to avoid a damaging internal party election).  The Sunday Telegraph suggests that Tony Blair is hatching a plan to instal David Miliband as Deputy PM if John Prescott quits soon.  The Brown camp, however, could easily interpret such an appointment as an attempt to put Mr Miliband into a position from which he could challenge the Chancellor for the Labour crown.