Confidence in George Osborne's capacity to lead Britain out of recession suffers a further blow today, as a new poll for The Independent on Sunday shows that only one in five people believes he should stay as Chancellor.
More than four out of 10 people agreed that Mr Osborne should be replaced as Chancellor, according to the survey. The poll, which lays bare a series of dismal findings for the Conservatives, showed that fewer than one-quarter of people trust Mr Osborne and David Cameron "to make the right decisions about the economy".
For the first time, the overall level of trust in Mr Cameron and Mr Osborne on economic matters is on a par with that of their Labour counterparts, Ed Miliband and Ed Balls.
Evidence of declining public confidence in the Chancellor's capabilities comes as a Tory predecessor in the post, Lord Lawson, urged Mr Osborne to give up his role as Tory election strategist and concentrate on reviving the economy.
"I think it might well be sensible now for him to give up this central strategic job," Lord Lawson said, "and focus exclusively on his job as Chancellor of the Exchequer, which is a tremendously important job."
He added: "His last Budget was not his biggest success. I think he should continue in that job but I do think … that it would be sensible for him to set aside his second job."
The criticism from a senior Tory will come as a blow to Mr Osborne as he struggles to rebuild his credibility after the U-turns that marred his last Budget.
Lord Lawson's observations echo Labour's accusations that Mr Osborne has become a "part-time Chancellor" while the country struggles to emerge from recession.
The IoS poll demonstrates how far Tory fortunes have dipped, with Labour retaining a 10-point lead over Mr Cameron's party. The proportion who believe Mr Cameron is turning out to be a good Prime Minister has fallen 10 points, to 27 per cent, in the past month alone – although his approval rating remains just ahead of Mr Miliband's.
Nearly half of voters agreed that the Home Secretary, Theresa May, should resign for failing to ensure that the security firm G4S provided enough staff for the Olympics.
ComRes interviewed 2,006 adults online on 18-19 July 2012.