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‘No obvious alternative’ to Sunak as Tory leader among 2019 party backers – poll

Some 42% of 2019 Conservative voters said they had a favourable view of Rishi Sunak, the Ipsos poll suggested (Stefan Rousseau/PA)
Some 42% of 2019 Conservative voters said they had a favourable view of Rishi Sunak, the Ipsos poll suggested (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

There are “no obvious alternatives” to Rishi Sunak as Conservative leader for winning back those who voted for the party in 2019, a new poll has suggested.

Mr Sunak’s continued leadership of his party came under renewed speculation this week after Sir Simon Clarke, a senior ally of former prime minister Liz Truss, said the Tories would suffer a “massacre” at the next election if they did not ditch Mr Sunak.

But a poll by Ipsos UK suggests there may be few alternatives to Mr Sunak in the eyes of 2019 Conservative voters, with the Prime Minister enjoying a higher favourability rating than the rest of his front bench.

Chancellor Jeremy Hunt
Chancellor Jeremy Hunt trailed the Prime Minister on 38% (Maja Smiejkowska/PA)

Some 42% of 2019 Tory voters said they had a favourable view of Mr Sunak, with Chancellor Jeremy Hunt trailing on 38% and Home Secretary James Cleverly on 28%.

The Prime Minister’s net favourability rating of +13 was also much higher than those of his Chancellor and Home Secretary, on +7 and +2 respectively.

There was also little difference between Mr Sunak and possible candidates from outside the parliamentary Conservative party.

Former prime minister Boris Johnson had a favourability rating among 2019 Tory voters of 43%, but at 34% his unfavourability rating was higher than that of Mr Sunak.

Reform UK founder and honorary president Nigel Farage, suggested by some as a possible future Conservative leader, was also virtually neck-and-neck with Mr Sunak in terms of popularity.

The former MEP was viewed favourably by 43% of 2019 Conservatives, only one point more than Mr Sunak, and was viewed unfavourably by 29%, tied with the Prime Minister.

Conservative Party Conference 2023
Nigel Farage’s favourability ratings were virtually the same as Rishi Sunak’s (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

Keiran Pedley, director of politics at Ipsos, said: “With a majority of Britons unfavourable towards Rishi Sunak, six in 10 saying things are heading in the wrong direction and Labour maintaining a large poll lead over the Conservatives in voter preferences, leadership speculation is to be expected.

“However, it is unclear who would do a better job. No obvious alternative stands out amongst 2019 Conservative voters so far.

“Plus, given at least half of Britons have held unfavourable opinions towards the Conservative Party since early 2022, it’s not a given that a new leader will improve the party brand any time soon.”

The poll, which surveyed 1,087 British adults between January 12 and 14, also found that around a fifth of 2019 Conservative voters now said they were likely to consider voting for Labour, while 28% said they would consider voting for Reform.