Tory support now lower than when Liz Truss was leader

Survey comes days after Rishi Sunak spoke of the ‘greatest comeback in political history’

Kate Devlin
Whitehall Editor
Thursday 02 May 2024 13:06 BST

Support for the Conservatives is now lower than it was under failed prime minister Liz Truss, despite Rishi Sunak’s hopes of the “greatest comeback in political history”.

Despite a flurry of government announcements in recent days, on everything from Rwanda flights to defence spending and welfare, a new poll has the party on just 18 per cent.

The YouGov survey, completed on Wednesday, puts Labour on 44 per cent, Nigel Farage’s Reform UK on 15 per cent and the Lib Dems on 10 per cent, with the Greens at 8 per cent and the SNP 2 per cent.

The polling firm said the result meant that the Tory share of the vote was now “lower than under Liz Truss”, when it sank to 19 per cent. The party is also only three points ahead of Reform, which will heighten Tory fears the party could take enough votes to hand seats to Labour.

When Mr Sunak replaced her as prime minister, the move was designed to steady the ship and improve his party’s fortunes.

But the latest poll will add to his woes, after what has been widely seen as one of Mr Sunak’s best weeks in No 10, as voters go to the polls in local and metro mayor elections, the results of which could decide his premiership.

Failure to hold mayoralties in Tees Valley and West Midlands are expected to bolster rebel Tory moves to try to oust him from office.

On Monday he urged Conservative Party faithful to take part in “the greatest comeback in political history” in the elections, an admission of the uphill battle he faces.

Rishi Sunak
Rishi Sunak (AP)

Forecasts suggest the Tories could lose up to half of the council seats they are defending, around 500, and chancellor Jeremy Hunt has said the party expects to suffer "significant losses".

Most of the seats were last contested in 2021, at the peak of Boris Johnson's ‘vaccine bounce’ after Covid-19 jabs were rolled out.

As the main parties seek to manage expectations, Mr Hunt said governments can get "punished" in local votes.

He told Sky News' Politics Hub: "Tony Blair easily lost those amounts of councillors. And, you know, David Cameron lost hundreds of councillors in the run up to the 2015 general election.

"So, you know, we are expecting to see significant losses. That often happens in local elections.

"But what we say to people is, look, this may be a moment when you want to express a view about the national picture but actually the local services you depend on will be decided by how you vote."

Meanwhile Labour said the system for election mayors favoured incumbents, although Sir Keir Starmer added that he was "hopeful" his party would win the West Midlands.

The YouGov poll also found that just 43 per cent of those who backed the Tories at the last general election say they intend to do so now. Fewer than one in three , 31 percent , of over-65s intend to vote Conservative and Tory support among Leave voters is now at same level as Labour’s.

Ms Truss infamously lasted less than six weeks in office, before she was ousted by her own MPs.

She had initially secured the job by beating Mr Sunak in the Tory leadership contest.

But he was hastily drafted in to take over after her disastrous mini budget was blamed for increasing mortgage rates , hastening the demise of her beleaguered administration.

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