Tory leadership race World

Voters believe Rishi Sunak will make good PM, U.K. opinion poll finds

Conservative Party leadership contender Rishi Sunak looks on before the live television debate for the candidates for leadership of the Conservative Party, hosted by Channel 4 in London on July 15, 2022.

Conservative Party leadership contender Rishi Sunak looks on before the live television debate for the candidates for leadership of the Conservative Party, hosted by Channel 4 in London on July 15, 2022. | Photo Credit: AP

Almost half of the voters for the U.K.’s governing Conservative Party believe Rishi Sunak will make a good Prime Minister, according to the results of a new opinion poll on July 17.

‘The Sunday Telegraph’ reports that the JL Partners poll of more than 4,400 people found that 48% of those who backed the Tories in the 2019 general election felt the British Indian former Chancellor would be a good Prime Minister.

This is also the first poll that puts Foreign Secretary Liz Truss in second place, with 39% backing her for Prime Minister and 33% in favour of Trade Minister Penny Mordaunt.

The survey comes as the race to elect Boris Johnson’s successor as the next Conservative Party leader is narrowing down to these three main contenders, with former Equalities Minister Kemi Badenoch and Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee Chair Tom Tugendhat in fourth and fifth place, respectively.

“Among those who have heard of Ms. Mordaunt, the overwhelming view is one of neutrality,” James Johnson, co-founder of JL Partners and a former Downing Street pollster, told the newspaper.

“Sunak invites strong opinions. One-third of voters think he would be good in the top job, one third do not. But in an unpopular field where every other candidate is in net-negative territory, this score draw makes him the public’s favourite. He is particularly popular with the all-important 2019 Conservative voter, as the only candidate to have half approve of him,” he said.

Among all voters, the most popular policy priority was to “turn the economy around”, with addressing the National Health Service (NHS) backlog and restoring trust and integrity in public life coming second and third respectively.

Cutting taxes, which has emerged as a central focus of all the debates so far, was the fourth priority, selected by 38% of voters overall and 40% of Conservative voters.

The JL Partners poll, which also delved into the characteristics voters are seeking from a new leader, found that 19% of Conservative supporters and 24% of voters overall most wanted a leader who is “truthful”.

The survey, carried out last week, puts the Opposition Labour Party 11 points ahead of the Conservatives, on 42 points to the Tories’ 31.

“While the public chew over the economy, the NHS and public trust, Conservative MPs may have a much simpler question: who is the best candidate to hold their seat? On this evidence, the answer is Mr Mr. Sunak,” added Mr. James Johnson.

An MRP model, which maps survey results onto every seat in the country, found that, among all voters, Mr. Sunak had the highest net approval score in 76% of the seats won by the Tories in the last general election over two years ago, compared to 19% in which Mr. Tugendhat came out on top and 5% in which Ms. Mordaunt had the best score.

Mr. Sunak, 42, has topped the first two rounds of voting among Tory MPs last week and the next few rounds of voting in the coming week are set to narrow down the field further, with only two left in the race by Thursday.

While Mr. Sunak is a clear favourite among the Tory MPs, some polling among the Conservative Party members who will have the final say has had Ms. Mordaunt in the lead.

However, a survey overnight for the Conservative Home website of 850 Tory members put Ms. Badenoch in the lead on 31%, with Ms. Truss second on 20%, Ms. Mordaunt third on 18%, Mr. Sunak fourth on 17% and Mr. Tugendhat fifth on 10%.

Postal votes will be sent out to around 1,60,000 Tory party members who are eligible to vote and they will decide the eventual winner and new Prime Minister to be announced on September 5.


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Printable version | Jul 17, 2022 11:29:40 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/voters-believe-rishi-sunak-will-make-good-pm-united-kingdom-opinion-poll-finds/article65650852.ece