Liz Truss’s approval ratings are now worse than her predecessor Boris Johnson’s ever were, plummeting even lower than his worst poll result during the height of the Partygate scandal.
The disastrous polling by Opinium lands on the heels of chaotic and downbeat Conservative Party conference, which came just days after the Bank of England was forced to intervene to rescue UK pension funds and clear up the economic turmoil caused by chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng’s mini-Budget.
Carried out exactly a month since Ms Truss entered Downing Street, the polling found that Ms Truss’s popularity had plunged by 10 points in the space of a week, now languishing at -47 per cent.
This is even lower than Mr Johnson’s low of -44 during revelations about the scandal of Covid rule-breaking in No 10 and Theresa May’s score of -46 in the days prior to her resignation.
There appears to be a huge appetite for a general election, with 61 per cent of respondents wanting a vote this year on whether Ms Truss’s Conservatives should remain in power.
Only a quarter of the more than 2,000 polled believe Ms Truss should remain as Tory leader, compared with 53 per cent who want her to resign, including a quarter of Tory voters.
On who should replace her in No 10, Sir Keir Starmer was the clear favourite with a net approval rating of +9, and his Labour Party’s 21-point poll lead of 47-26 is their largest ever recorded by Opinium – and includes one in four people who voted Conservative in the 2019 election dominated by the issue of Brexit.
It seems Ms Truss will be unable to rely on the rallying cause of Brexit – so often grasped for by her predecessor at times of adversity or scandal – to boost her support. The prime minister’s ratings are almost as low among Leave voters as Remain, of whom 61 per cent and 74 per cent respectively disapprove of her.
If Ms Truss was to resign and be replaced by another Conservative, the most popular choice would be her leadership rival Rishi Sunak – the former chancellor who branded her disastrous tax-cutting policies a “fairytale” during heated hustings debate.
However, Mr Sunak’s pole position was owed more to his rivals’ poor performance than his own popularity – with his score of -7 per cent on who voters thought would make a good prime minister edging ahead of Mr Johnson (-22), Michael Gove (-37), Penny Mordaunt (-11) and Mr Kwarteng (-53).
Mr Kwarteng’s ratings as chancellor were even worse than Ms Truss’s, plunging 11 points to -51 after the U-turn on his surprise abolition of the highest rate of tax during a cost of living crisis – which spooked traders, earned a rebuke from the International Monetary Fund, and nearly crashed the government bond market.
“The Conservative party conference has not, it seems safe to say, given the Truss administration the boost in the polls it might have hoped for,” said Adam Drummond, Opinium’s head of political and social research.
“The fact that the prime minister seems determined to avoid up-rating universal credit in line with inflation puts her on the wrong side of public opinion on the issue.
“Even though voters generally like it when politicians U-turn to abandon unpopular policies, the fact that “U-turning to abandon unpopular policies” seems to have defined her time in office so far means that she doesn’t even get the benefit of being seen as principled, her ratings for this are as poor as they are for being competent or being a strong leader.”
Separate polling by YouGov this week gave Labour a 30-point lead over the Conservatives at 55-22, down only slightly from the record 33-point lead which had cast a further shadow of gloom over a Tory conference marked by infighting, extraordinary ill-discipline within Cabinet and Ms Truss’s U-turn.
It contrasted with a smooth Labour conference days earlier widely viewed by attendees and commentators as showing an unusually united party believing itself to be within reach of power for the first time in years.
On the question of which party leaders voters thought would make the best prime minister, YouGov’s new polling found that Sir Keir held a commanding lead of 43 per cent to Ms Truss’s 13.