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Rishi Sunak is more popular than his discredited party, but it won’t be enough come election time

Although Sunak stabilised the country and the economy and reduced Labour’s poll lead from about 20 to 15 points, the gap is no longer closing, says Andrew Grice

Wednesday 31 May 2023 16:14 BST
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<p>Sunak is less popular in the crucial red wall seats in the North and Midlands </p>

Sunak is less popular in the crucial red wall seats in the North and Midlands

The hopes of Conservatives who believe Rishi Sunak can defy political gravity and retain power at next year’s general election rest heavily on his personal appeal. Not only that, but they’re banking on a presidential Tory campaign against a weaker opponent in Keir Starmer.

On the face of it, a credible strategy: Sunak is more popular than his discredited party. But does it add up? New polling suggests not. Sunak is liked by 2016 Remain, liberal-leaning voters in the blue wall in the South.

So, he might be better placed to resist the “yellow peril” advance of the Liberal Democrats than Ed Davey’s revitalised party thinks after their strong performance in last month’s local elections. If the prime minister is a fiscal, social and free-market conservative, which I think he is, many voters don’t seem to have realised. Yet.

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