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Evening Standard
Evening Standard
Robert Dex

Jeremy Hunt’s budget fails to move voters as Labour retains election lead in latest poll

Voters remain unmoved by Jeremy Hunt’s budget with the Conservatives staying stuck on 29% while Labour keeps a 15% lead in the latest poll.

Polling firm Opinium found almost half of voters (49%) said they were “unsure” if the budget was good or bad for them despite the chancellor unveiling policies to extend childcare, freeze fuel duty and support families facing high energy bills.

Individual policies were welcomed with 85% of voters praising the continuation of the household energy support scheme and three quarters backing the decision to freeze fuel duty for another year.

But only one in five voters said it was a good budget and Labour is still ahead on being judged best on running the economy as well as improving public services.

Mr Hunt’s decision to abolish the tax-free cap on the lifetime pensions allowance, as he seeks to boost economic growth by decreasing the number of working-age adults opting to retire, was condemned with just over a quarter of voters (26%) saying it was a good idea.

Kier Starmer and Rishi Sunak (AP/Getty)

The poll is bad news for a Chancellor who told reporters there was “no path (to re-election) for us without a reputation for economic competence”, but one ray of hope for the government lies in the Prime Minister’s popularity with voters broadly rating Rishi Sunak and Keir Starmer the same on their ability to govern and handle the economy.

The Prime Minister’s approval rating is -8 with 31% of voters approving and 39% disapproving of him while Starmer has the same number (31%) approving and disapproving.

Asked who would make the best Prime Minister, 28% said Sunak while 26% backed Starmer.

Adam Drummond, head of political and social research at Opinium, said: “The main problem for Rishi Sunak remains that the party he leads is desperately unpopular, even though he and Keir Starmer frequently trade places at the top of the ‘best prime minister’ question and Sunak/Hunt narrowly pip Starmer/Reeves on the best team to handle the economy.

“The way that the Conservative party traditionally wins elections is by being more trusted on the economy, with people perceiving Labour as well-meaning but incompetent, but that is decidedly not where we are at the moment. Labour are narrowly ahead on running the economy and far ahead on measures like making people better off.

“The Conservatives are also taking a gamble with Suella Braverman’s push on small boats. Despite thinking ‘public support tougher action on migration’ is a solid bet, polling about the small boats policy is a confusing mixture and the credibility of the person selling it is low.”

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