The Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s first working week as new leader of the Conservative Party has helped the Tories gain some ground.
Opinium’s latest poll shows the Tories have gained 5 points in the last week, and now have 28% of the vote share, whereas Labour has lost 6 points, and is now on 44%. Overall, however, Labour still has a substantial 16-point lead.
The new prime minister also begins his leadership with a net positive approval rating, with three in ten (31%) approving of the job he’s doing, compared to 23% who disapprove.
This gives him an overall rating of +8. Meanwhile Keir Starmer has a rating of +7 (due to rounding), with 35% approving (-3) and 29% disapproving (no change).
Voters also think that Sunak makes the best prime minister – with 31% choosing the current PM whereas 27% chose Starmer. This marks a fall for Starmer, as last week 38% picked him as the best PM, while 5% chose Liz Truss.
In particular the number of Labour voters that see Starmer as the best candidate has dropped. In Opinium’s last poll against Truss, 70% of Labour voters chose him whereas now this figure is 59%.
Voters still expect Labour to win the next election…
Although the new Conservative leadership has managed to make some inroads, there is still a long way to go. Over half (54%) believe that Labour will win the next General Election (with 34% envisaging a Labour majority) while only a fifth (21%) think the Conservatives will win (9% think they would get a majority).
…but would choose Conservatives to manage the economy
The Conservatives are, however, deemed to the best party to manage the economy, with a third (33%) choosing “a Conservative government led by Rishi Sunak”, compared to 29% who chose “a Labour government led by Keir Starmer”. In contrast, when Opinium asked this last week, 39% chose Labour led by Starmer over 11% choosing a Conservative government led by Liz Truss.
The shift has been led by Conservative voters who are now picking a government led by Sunak (88%) – whereas in the last poll, only 41% of Conservative voters chose a Tory government led by Truss.
Overall, two-thirds (66%) do not think the government is in control of the economic situation, compared to 12% that do. This is however an improvement on last week where 85% did not think the government was in control.
Adam Drummond, Head of Political and Social Research at Opinium said, “The Conservatives under Rishi Sunak are doing better than they were under Liz Truss but Truss set the bar so low that it’s effectively a speed bump.
“The Tories have seen big jumps in the proportion of Britons trusting them to handle various big issues but from such a low base that Labour are still ahead on most. On the key subjects of the economy and who would make the best prime minister, Sunak and the Tories lead by 4 points after trailing by nearly 30 under Truss.
The Conservative brand remains heavily damaged though and while the public are giving Rishi Sunak the benefit of the doubt, the Autumn Statement will give us a better idea of whether the current bounce will last.”