Britain’s latest Conservative PM – the third in three months – has said he will not seek approval for his agenda, citing the Tories’ 2019 general election won under Boris Johnson.
But a new survey has found that 64 per cent of voters – including half of 2019 Tory voters – say Mr Sunak should call a general election.
The Redfield and Wilton Strategies poll, carried out after Mr Sunak entered Downing Street, found that 50 per cent of Tory backers want an election now, compared with only 40 per cent who do not want to go to the polls early.
It marks the highest level of support for an early election among all voters, and among Tory supporters, since the arrival of Liz Truss at No 10 and the turmoil of the disastrous mini-Budget.
Meanwhile, the number of signatures on The Independent’s petition for an immediate election passed 460,000, part of our Election Now campaign arguing that it is time for voters to decide who should govern the country.
More than 500 people have signed up to lobby MPs on the need for a fresh election at a series of meetings in parliament on Wednesday, ahead of a TUC-led “general election now” rally. Hundreds more are expected to join a Peoples Assembly’s march for an election on 5 November.
TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady told The Independent: “This Wednesday we are inviting everyone who believes Britain deserves better to join us at a rally in Westminster to demand a general election now.”
She added: “With schools and hospitals desperate for more funding just to stand still, and millions of workers with plummeting pay, the UK is crying out for change. We need a general election.”
Former Tory chancellor George Osborne said on Sunday that Mr Sunak “knows he hasn’t got a mandate” and faced a huge challenge in earning public trust.
“He was actually the loser in the most recent leadership election this summer,” he told Channel 4’s The Andrew Neil Show. “But that kind of humility, that kind of ‘I’ve got to earn the trust, I’m not assuming anything’, I think it is exactly the right start’.”
Mr Obsorne said he hoped “normality” was returning to the Tory party after “clowns” Ms Truss and her former chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng were removed and Mr Sunak was speedily installed by MPs without any vote from the membership.
“A sense of sanity had returned to the Conservative Party. The government felt like, you know, normality had to some degree returned,” said the ex-chancellor. “Essentially, the clowns were asked to leave the stage.”
But Labour and the Liberal Democrats – both urging Mr Sunak to seek his own mandate – say MPs have been inundated with emails and calls from constituents saying they wanted a fresh election.
Jacob Abbott, Labour candidate for Ipswich, said on Sunday: “Time and time again on the doorstep yesterday, people were telling me that they wanted a general election.”
There were signs, however, that Mr Sunak’s arrival at No 10 has helped his party begin a fightback in approval ratings. An Opinium poll published on Sunday showed that Labour’s lead had dropped from 27 to 16 percentage points, while the Tories had gained five points back.
More in Common focus group sessions in red-wall seats in the North and Midlands – shared with The Independent this weekend – showed voters remained sceptical about the man running the country.
Most participants were aware of his huge wealth and his wife’s previous non-dom tax status – as revealed by The Independent – and questioned whether he could understand their financial struggles.
“When you’re well-off and rich like he is, it’s hard to comprehend, say, a £200 gas and electricity bill,” said Mark, who works in sales, adding that Mr Sunak seemed like the kind of politician who had his meals served on a silver platter.
The Independent petition calling for a general election
It is a simple and fundamental principle that the government derives its democratic legitimacy from the people. The future of the country must not be decided by plotting and U-turns at Westminster; it must be decided by the people in a general election. And for this reason, The Independent is calling for an election to be held. Have your say and sign our election petition by clicking here
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