Rishi Sunak now as unpopular as Boris Johnson when he quit, poll reveals

As the prime minister battles a civil war on the Tory back benches, his favourability with the public has slumped to a record low

Archie Mitchell
Wednesday 13 December 2023 12:19 GMT
Rishi Sunak wins Rwanda vote despite Tory rebellion

Rishi Sunak’s popularity has hit a record low, and he is now as unpopular as Boris Johnson before he was forced out of Downing Street.

As the prime minister battles a civil war on the Tory back benches, his favourability with the public has continued to plunge.

In a damning poll conducted ahead of Tuesday’s crunch vote on Mr Sunak’s Rwanda bill, just 21 per cent of people said they have a positive view of the PM.

That compared with 70 per cent of people who said they view him negatively, leaving his approval rating at -49, a 10-point drop from the end of November. It is also 30 points below Mr Sunak’s rating when he took over as PM.

It is the lowest approval rating YouGov has recorded for the prime minister since he took over from Liz Truss last October.

The embattled PM’s rating is lower than Mr Johnson’s rating before he was forced to quit over a series of scandals including Partygate. And it is tumbling toward the -70 approval rating hit by Liz Truss during her disastrous 49-day stint in Downing Street.

Mr Sunak was relatively popular when he took over, having won praise for his handling of the economy through the pandemic. And Tories had hoped that he would restore the party’s reputation after the Johnson and Truss administrations.

But the dip in Mr Sunak’s popularity also means he is now as unpopular as the Conservative Party as a whole.

YouGov also found Mr Sunak is viewed negatively by a majority of 2019 Tory voters, who the party needs to hold onto to win a general election expected next year.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer’s approval rating has also dipped in recent weeks, with a score of -22.

The damning finding for Mr Sunak comes as he grapples with a major Tory rebellion over his Rwanda deportation plan.

The PM emerged wounded from a crunch vote over a bill to deem Rwanda a safe country to deport asylum seekers in a bid to revive the policy after it was struck down by the Supreme Court. Parliament backed his emergency legislation by 313 votes to 269

But he faces another battle over the bill within weeks, with Tory rebels warning they could vote against the bill without significant changes.

The polling also come after it was confirmed Mr Sunak is failing on four of his five key pledges to the country.

In January, he promised to halve inflation, grow the economy, cut national debt, cut waiting lists and stop small boat crossings in the channel.

Inflation fell from more than 10 per cent at the time of the announcement, to 4.6 per cent last month, in a boost for the PM.

But since the pledge, waiting lists have hit a record high, national debt has risen and migrants have continued crossing the channel in small boats.

And figures from the Office for National Statistics on Wednesday morning showed the economy shrinking faster than expected, meaning the PM is also failing to grow the economy.

Labour’s shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves said that the data shows that Mr Sunak’s government had “failed” to grow the economy as promised.

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