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UK: Rishi Sunak's party heading for 'electoral extinction' in upcoming elections, show polls

Market research firm Savanta predicted an "electoral extinction" for Sunak's Conservative Party, which enjoyed 21 per cent support in comparison to Labour's 46 per cent. Sunak has seemingly failed to revive the sinking ship of the Tories amid high inflation and a cost-of-living crisis.

Edited By: Aveek Banerjee @AveekABanerjee London Published on: June 16, 2024 22:46 IST
Rishi Sunak
Image Source : REUTERS British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak.

London: In a grim picture for British Prime Minister's Rishi Sunak's beleaguered party, three British opinion polls released late on Saturday have predicted a wipeout for the Conservatives (Tories), and one pollster warned of an "electoral extinction" in the elections scheduled for July 4. Sunak's leadership has been wracked with difficulties, and his sudden decision to announce elections was met with mixed reactions and an exodus of Conservative MPs.

The polls come just over halfway through the election campaign, after a week in which both the Conservatives and Labour set out their manifestos, and shortly before voters begin to receive postal ballots. Market research company Savanta found 46 per cent support for Keir Starmer's Labour Party, up 2 points on the previous poll five days ago, while support for the Conservatives dropped to 21 per cent.

Labour's 25-point lead was the largest since the premiership of Sunak's predecessor, Liz Truss, whose tax cut plans prompted investors to dump British government bonds, pushing up interest rates and forcing a Bank of England intervention. "Our research suggests that this election could be nothing short of electoral extinction for the Conservative Party," Chris Hopkins, political research director at Savanta, said.

What other polls predicted?

A separate poll by Survation, published by the Sunday Times, predicted the Conservatives could end up with just 72 seats in the 650-member House of Commons - the lowest in their nearly 200-year history - while Labour would win 456 seats. In percentage terms, the Survation poll had Labour on 40 per cent and the Conservatives on 24 per cent, while former Brexit campaigner Nigel Farage's Reform UK party - a right-wing challenger to the Conservatives - was on 12 per cent.

A third poll by Opinium for Sunday's Observer, conducted from June 12 to June 14, also showed Labour on 40 per cent, the Conservatives on 23 per cent and Reform on 14 per cent, with the two largest parties yielding ground to smaller rivals.

Several opinion polls earlier this year have already predicted that Labour will win the next national election, propelling Keir Starmer to power and ending 14 years of Conservative government in Britain. Sunak has said he intends to call a vote in the second half of the year. The British Indian leader had been counting on getting an electoral boost from recent announcements on defence spending and the progress of his divisive plan to send asylum seekers to Rwanda.

Rishi Sunak's woes continue

Sunak, last seen at the G7 Summit in Italy and the Ukraine peace summit in Switzerland, has struggled to restore his party's sinking popularity despite recasting himself at various points over the past year as a bold reformer. He faces Labour's rival Keir Starmer, who has accused him several times of incompetence and is widely expected to become the next British PM.

Sunak's abrupt decision to announce elections on July 4 surprised many and alarmed senior Conservatives concerned with the party's 20-percentage gap behind Labour, with some even considering submitting letters of no confidence, according to The Guardian. Sunak faced further problems as a recent poll showed his party behind Reform UK.

"We’re only halfway through this election right? So I’m still fighting very hard for every vote," said Sunak in Italy. "I always say the poll that matters is the one on 4 July – but if that poll was replicated on 4 July, it would be handing Labour a blank cheque to tax everyone. Tax their home, their pension, their car, their family, and I’ll be fighting very hard to make sure that doesn’t happen."

Sunak is struggling to meet his election promises, including a vow to grow the economy and resolve the cost-of-living crisis. The increasingly beleaguered prime minister attempts to ride out infighting within the ranks, with sections to the right of the governing Conservative Party calling for a leadership change ahead of a general election expected later in the year. The 42-year-old wealthy Sunak has also been mocked for trying to be relatable with voters.

(with inputs from Reuters)

ALSO READ | UK: Rishi Sunak faces mass exodus of MPs ahead of elections: Who are his Conservative challengers?

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