- Voters spell out way to election victory for Rishi Sunak and the Conservatives
Rishi Sunak’s path to election victory is today spelt out by voters who back his green gamble and the Rwanda plan.
On the eve of the Conservative Party conference, an exclusive poll for the Daily Mail finds the public support his bold policies that create clear blue water with Labour.
But voters urge him to let them keep more of their money through tax cuts – as the cost of living emerged as the key battleground ahead of the looming general election.
The electorate trusts Mr Sunak over Sir Keir Starmer to reduce the national debt, they support the Government’s plan to deport illegal migrants to Rwanda and back the PM’s U-turn on a green plans.
The Survation poll found that half of the public supported the Government’s decision to delay some of its targets to reach net zero to help household finances, with just 36 per cent opposed.
Mr Sunak last week announced he would delay a ban on sales of new petrol and diesel vehicles from 2030 to 2035, and slowed down plans to prohibit new gas boilers.
While he faced a backlash from some in his party, the Mail’s poll suggests it could help him to an election victory.
Voters also backed the Rwanda deportation plan for Channel migrants, currently being held up in the courts, with 60 per cent in support, compared to 19 per cent who opposed it.
But 37 per cent said the level of taxes in the UK should be cut – while 38 per cent said it should be maintained. Just 13 per cent called for tax hikes.
Last night MPs welcomed the findings of the poll, but urged Mr Sunak and Chancellor Jeremy Hunt to heed the calls and bring down taxes this autumn.
Former Tory leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith said it showed Mr Sunak was ‘at his best’ when he was conservative. And former minister Sir John Hayes, who chairs the Common Sense Group, said the poll should form the ‘template’ of the party’s election manifesto.
Mr Sunak last week announced he would delay a ban on sales of new petrol and diesel vehicles from 2030 to 2035, and slowed down plans to prohibit new gas boilers
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer, Leader of the Scottish Labour Party Anas Sarwar and Scottish Labour’s candidate for the Rutherglen and Hamilton West by-election Michael Shanks (not pictured) take part in a campaign event today
Despite voters believing Sir Keir is more trustworthy and would make a better prime minister, on core issues the difference between the leaders was more marginal, with only a couple of percentage points separating them on matters such as their perceived ability to halve inflation and grow the economy.
On the issue of who is more likely to stop the small-boats crisis, the leaders are neck and neck (31 per cent voting for each), and it is only on bringing the record NHS waiting time down that Sir Keir establishes any sort of clear lead, being trusted by 44 per cent of respondents to Mr Sunak’s 25 per cent.
Today’s survey also revealed voters’ top priorities. Almost two thirds – 61per cent – said the cost of living was the most important issue affecting how they would vote. It was followed by health and the NHS, with 53 per cent, and then the economy generally with 35 per cent.
Foreign policy, culture, transport and defence were the least important, according to the poll.
The survey also found:
* Some 42 per cent said the Government should build the northern leg of the HS2 railway between Birmingham and Manchester, while just 30 per cent said it should not;
* The majority of voters – 60 per cent – want the pensions triple lock to be maintained in its current form;
* Almost half of voters (48 per cent) think Mr Sunak is not going well as leader of the Conservative Party, while 43 per cent think Sir Keir is succeeding as Labour leader.
* Voters trust Sir Keir more than Mr Sunak – with 39 per cent saying the Labour leader most demonstrates trustworthiness, compared to 28 per cent for the PM;
* A majority of voters – 53 per cent – support abolishing inheritance tax;
* Labour’s proposal to lower the voting age to 16 is unpopular – with two thirds of voters wanting to keep it at 18.
Sir Iain told the Mail: ‘This Government has faced the two biggest challenges any government has faced since the Second World War (Covid and war in Ukraine). We were always going to expect the public to be jaundiced and fed up, because it is costing more to live than it was before.
‘But considering all of that, what is fascinating about this poll is, however, underneath the veneer of annoyance and upset, they are very clear about where this government ought to be.
‘And strangely enough, it is where the Conservatives should naturally find themselves comfortable, which is in lower taxes, taking on this ludicrous net zero ideology, and recognising that while we must clean up the environment, it cannot be done by form of a punishment beating on the backs of those who have to pay for it.
‘Finally, overwhelmingly, they approve of the plan to send people to Rwanda.’
Sir Iain urged the Prime Minister to act ‘boldly’, adding: ‘The game isn’t over – the idea this election is already lost is not true. The public are ambivalent about Starmer and they are waiting for Sunak to deliver. He’s at his best when he is conservative.’
Senior Tory MP Sir John Redwood, who headed Margaret Thatcher’s policy unit, said the Mail’s findings were further evidence of the need for tax cuts as soon as possible.
‘It’s perfectly decent and respectable to be a Conservative, and what’s more – some of these things are extremely popular. But you’ve not only got to say them, you’ve got to do them, because there’s not a lot of trust at the moment,’ he said.
‘I’m delighted to see that people want their own lives to improve and think that higher taxes and more bans and restrictions are getting in their way – that’s the overall message.’
He urged the Government to cut taxes this autumn so people ‘see benefits by next autumn’ – when the general election is widely expected.
Sir John Hayes said: ‘Being authentically Tory makes sense, but it’s also the right thing to do… People want an alternative to the liberal-Left consensus, not a pale imitation of it.
‘They want true-blue Tories and that means – as the Prime Minister has – being clear about securing our borders, cracking down on disorder, locking up more people for longer, dealing with crime and punishment and standing up for Britain’s greatness.’
Sir John added: ‘People want a distinctive offer from the Conservatives… We want to be more conservative, not less conservative.’
A government official said: ‘Keir Starmer just says whatever his advisers tell him. Rishi Sunak takes the long-term decisions in the national interest to secure a brighter future for the country.
‘This is why he set out a pragmatic approach to net zero, which avoids families being unnecessarily whacked with bills of £10,000.’
*The Survation poll for the Daily Mail was carried out on Wednesday and Thursday. Some 1,000 adults living in the UK responded, and data was weighted to be representative of the population.
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