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Inside Westminster

This is what voters really think of Rishi Sunak

There is good and bad news for the new prime minister, writes Andrew Grice

Friday 28 October 2022 20:09 BST
Sunak’s most immediate headache is the economy
Sunak’s most immediate headache is the economy (AFP via Getty)

The bad news for Rishi Sunak is that voters do not think he is a fresh start, just the latest version of Tory chaos. He can hardly blame them.

Focus groups conducted by Labour show the public think Sunak had to make Suella Braverman home secretary to appease parts of his party with whom he disagrees. Sunak is seen as a rich man who, in a typical comment, “doesn’t get what it’s like for us”. Two out of three people want a general election now, in line with The Independent’s petition, according to Labour’s private polling.

The good news for Sunak: there is another side to the public opinion coin. Research for the centrist Tory think tank Onward shows that a majority of the 2019 Tory voters the party has lost are “don’t knows” rather than people who now back Labour or other parties. The Tories have lost four times as many voters than Labour has gained. If the Tories could win back the “don’t knows”, they would be within touching distance of Keir Starmer’s party.

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