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Rishi Sunak now more unpopular than Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn

New poll low for PM, as right-wing Tories grumble about having ‘nothing left to lose’ in replacing leader

Adam Forrest
Political Correspondent
Saturday 20 January 2024 18:19 GMT
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Sunak says Tories plan is working in speech after Rwanda vote

Rishi Sunak is now more unpopular than both Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn at the peak of their unpopularity, a new survey shows.

The Conservative PM is struggling to reverse his party’s dire polling fortunes, and his own personal standing with the British public has a hit a new low.

Mr Sunak has a net approval rating of minus 48, according to the latest Ipsos poll – lower than either Mr Johnson or Mr Corbyn when they resigned.

Mr Johnson’s approval rating was minus 45 when he was booted out of No 10 by his party, while Mr Corbyn’s was minus 44 when he quit as Labour leader following the thumping 2019 election defeat.

The Tory leader can take some small comfort from the fact it’s slightly more popular than Liz Truss when she left No 10 in disgrace in the autumn of 2022, with an approval rating of minus 51.

Ipsos pollster Keiran Pedley cautioned that “ratings can go up and down so Rishi Sunak’s should not be seen as set in stone”.

“However, it may concern the Conservatives that the prime minister’s poll ratings are so low as we head towards a general election,” he added.

Rishi Sunak under pressure to boost Tories flagging poll fortunes (PA Wire)

A leading Johnson supporter has claimed that “at least” 29 Conservative MPs have submitted letters of no confidence against Mr Sunak.

Andrea Jenkyns – a Tory backbencher who has been a consistent critic of Mr Sunak – said that more than two dozen colleagues had told her they had handed in letters.

“Talk of letters is always nonsense – only Sir Graham [Brady, chair of the 1922 Committee] knows how many are in,” one Sunak ally told The Independent. The senior Tory said it would be “madness” to replace the current leader before the general election.

But talk of replacing Mr Sunak continues to rumble on. Right-wing Tory rebels told The Times that the party’s awful polling meant there was “nothing left to lose” in trying to replace their leader once again.

“Even John Major got 31 per cent in 1997. No Conservative leader can survive being at 20 per cent for very long. If this persists until the election the Conservative party is dead for 10 to 15 years,” one said.

This week’s YouGov survey gives Labour an astonishing 27-point lead over the Tories (47 per cent to 20 per cent). It follows the polling company’s MRP mega-poll that predicted the Conservatives were on course to hold just 169 seats in a 1997-style wipeout.

The fresh rows came as Mr Sunak urged peers to “crack on” with the Rwanda bill in the House of Lords – saying he wanted to get the deportation flights “up and running” as soon as possible.

But the latest poll shows that the public is not convinced by his Rwanda plan. A majority – 51 per cent of voters – think the PM’s deportation policy will fail to send asylum seekers to the African country, while just 21 per cent think he will succeed in getting flights started.

More voters (39 per cent) back the Rwanda plan than oppose it (28 per cent), according to the Redfield & Wilton Strategies survey for the i newspaper. But the findings suggest a jadedness about the issue.

Some 42 per cent of voters say Rwanda deportation flights wouldn’t influence which party they vote for, while 16 per cent said the Tory plan makes them more likely to vote for a rival party.

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