Politics

Strikes have helped turn the tide for Sunak in exclusive new poll

PMQs: Rishi Sunak and Keir Starmer clash over nurses' strikes

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A polling expert believes that public fatigue with militant unions and mass strikes has given Rishi Sunak and the Conservatives a major boost in the polls. The comment comes as the Tories have seen Labour’s lead fall to 18 percent, the lowest since Mr Sunak became Prime Minister.

The Government has been facing a new winter of disconetent with nurses on strike demanding a pay rise of 19 percent as well as ambulance drivers, paramedics, Welsh midwives, dockers, train drivers, postal workers, lawyers and others taking industrial action over pay.

And yesterday, Mr Sunak and Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer traded verbal blows on the issue in Prime Minister’s questions.

But Michela Morizzo, chief executive of Express.co.uk’s polling partner Techne UK, said that the strikes were part of the reason Mr Sunak is seeing a turn around for the Conservatives in the tracker poll.

She said: “Our tracker poll this week sees Labour drop two points in national vote share with the Conservatives gaining one point, rising to 28 points in national vote share.

At a time of significant national strike action, most notably rail strikes and the first national strike of NHS nursing staff, this result might seem counter-intuitive.

“Clearly voters are not necessarily and immediately willing to support such strike action and the impact on ordinary families and their working lives cannot be underestimated. It is too early in my opinion to say that the Conservative come back is now taking place but nevertheless this poll brings some better news for Rishi Sunak and his Government.”

However, it was not all good news for Mr Sunak.

Ms Morizzo added: “It is also notable that Reform UK continue to grow – their national vote share rising from five points to six.

“The beginning of next year will be challenging for all the political parties and the messages they will deliver will be key for the voting intention trends!”

The rise of Richard Tice’s Reform UK could split the vote in key pro-Brexit seats especially the Red Wall ones won off Labour in the north and midlands in 2019.

Some MPs fear that if Nigel Farage makes a comeback as leader then the Reform UK vote share could rise significantly to above 10 percent killing off any hopes for the Tories to make a miraculous turnaround in fortunes.

Despite making a significan dent in Labour’s lead the Tories still only lead in two categories of voters.

Among 2016 Leave voters they are ahead by 43 percent to 29 percent although Reform UK have now swallowed up 11 percent of this category.

The Conservatives also have a narrow lead of 41 percent to 39 percent among retired people who traditionally are more likely to vote.

The picture among younger voters is catastrophic for the Tories with Labour getting 53 percent to their 20 percent.

The size of Mr Sunak’s task though is highlighted by the Electoral Calculus prediction based on the polling results.

They put the Tories on 160 while Labour would have a majority of 148. However, this is significantly better for the Tories than the Labour majority of 314 predicted via another poll earlier this week. 

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This week’s tracker poll does seem to support the claim made by a senior Downing Street source close to Mr Sunak that Labour’s lead is “soft” and can be overturned within the two years before the next election.

Jacob Rees-Mogg has also been urging colleagues unhappy with the policy direction and tax rises of Mr Sunak’s government “to remain loyal” because “if we stick together there is a chance we can at least significantly reduce the damage at the next election.”

The Tories are banking on Starmer not gaining enough appeal at the next election and Techne UK’s “best Prime Minister poll” last week significantly only gave the Labour leader a much smaller six point lead over Mr Sunak.

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