Get all your news in one place.
100’s of premium titles.
One app.
Start reading
Evening Standard
Evening Standard
Nicholas Cecil

Rishi Sunak’s popularity slumps amid storms over conduct of top Tories, strikes and cost-of-living woes

Rishi Sunak’s popularity is sinking as the Government continues to be hit by controversies in the middle of the cost-of-living crisis and wave of strikes, a new poll revealed on Monday.

The Ipsos survey for the Standard found that 32 per cent of adults believe he has what it takes to be a good Prime Minister, down ten points from November, with 43 per cent disagreeing, up nine points.

He has fallen behind Sir Keir Starmer, on 36 per cent for having PM qualities, and whose score on this question has been nudging up since last April.

Mr Sunak has also seen his lead as the “most capable PM” evaporate, with the Labour leader now ahead.

A third of the public back the Tory leader as the best person to lead the country, down from 41 per cent two months ago.

In contrast, Sir Keir is on 39 per cent, up from 35 per cent.

The Prime Minister’s ratings have slipped as the Government has so far failed to find a way to end the widespread strikes gripping Britain, with inflation also biting into the budgets of millions of households hit by high energy bills.

He vowed on his arrival in Downing Street in October to embed “integrity, professionalism and accountability at every level” of his Government.

But the Tories have been hit by several growing storms at Westminster including over now sacked Tory party chairman Nadhim Zahawi’s tax affairs, a string of claims of bullying against Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab, and Boris Johnson’s links to BBC chairman Richard Sharp appointed when he was PM.

All of the individuals caught up in the furores have denied any wrongdoing.

Fifty-five per cent of adults now say they are dissatisfied with the PM, up from 49 per cent in December, with 26 per cent now satisfied compared to 28 per cent last month. So, his net satisfaction rating has dropped from -21 to -29.

For Sir Keir, 37 per cent are satisfied, 40 per cent dissatisfied, a net score of -3, slightly up from -6.

But a large chunk of the public still do not know what the two main party leaders stand for despite their numerous TV appearances, speeches and clashes at Prime Minister’s Questions.

Forty-four per cent say they do not know what Sir Keir stands for, down five points from July, and 40 per cent say the same about Mr Sunak, unchanged from the summer.

The poll also found:

  • Labour remains a startling 25 points ahead of the Conservatives. The Tories are on 26 per cent (+3 points from December), Labour 51 per cent (+2), and the Liberal Democrats nine (-4).
  • Just two in ten adults believe the Government is competent, with 62 per cent disagreeing.
  • Two thirds say it is time for a change of Government at the next General Election, expected in the autumn of 2024.
  • Among 2019 Conservative voters, 40 per cent think it is time for change. But 53 per cent disagree, including 29 per cent who believe the Government has done a poor job but the next election is not the time for change.

The finding suggests this group’s vote could be particularly up for grabs by either party.

Gideon Skinner, Head of Political Research at Ipsos UK, said: “The public remain sceptical about how effectively the Government can deliver on their main concerns on public services, the economy and cost of living, and now the Prime Minister’s own ratings are also slipping.

“Combined with much less apprehension about the prospect of a Labour government than in 2019, this is all helping to create a sense among Britons that it is time for a change.

“However, there are also areas for Labour to be wary of; Keir Starmer still has more to do to define what he stands for.”

The survey found that 36 per cent of all adults think Sir Keir is ready to be PM, with 37 per cent disagreeing, slightly better than in April when the figures were 34 per cent and 44 per cent respectively.

It also showed 52 per cent disagree that there would be chaos if Labour wins the next election, blunting the Tories using this as a possible attack line, with 26 per cent taking the opposite view.

When Jeremy Corbyn was party leader in September 2019, 52 per cent thought there would be chaos if he got into No10, with 35 per cent disagreeing.

While the threat to Mr Sunak from across the Despatch Box seems to be growing, there seems to be little clamour for a return of Boris Johnson to No10.

A quarter of people think Mr Johnson has what it takes to be a good PM, with 63 per cent disagreeing.

Among 2019 Tory voters, 52 per cent think Mr Sunak has what is needed, compared with 46 per cent for Mr Johnson.

Sign up to read this article
Read news from 100’s of titles, curated specifically for you.
Already a member? Sign in here
Related Stories
Top stories on inkl right now
One subscription that gives you access to news from hundreds of sites
Already a member? Sign in here
Our Picks
Fourteen days free
Download the app
One app. One membership.
100+ trusted global sources.