More than one-third of Conservative voters view the Tories as “the party of sleaze”, new polling for The Independent has found, as Rishi Sunak struggles to draw a line under the scandal-ladden era of Boris Johnson.
The Savanta ComRes survey found that 45 per cent of voters view the Tories as the party sleaze – including 37 per cent of those who voted Conservative at the 2019 election.
Only one in ten voters (11 per cent) view Mr Sunak’s party as “moral”. In comparison, 38 per cent say Labour is the party of “morals” and only 14 per cent view the opposition as the party of sleaze.
The prime minister is facing growing pressure to sack the deputy prime minister Dominic Raab, who is facing a long-running investigation into allegations he bullied civil servants across three government departments.
A serving cabinet minister said Mr Raab “has got to go”, according to the Sunday Telegraph. The justice secretary’s colleague saying they had “heard too much” from civil servants alleging that “he’s an absolute s***”.
Mr Raab is also said to be facing a single complaint based on the concerns of 27 civil servants at the Ministry of Justice alone, suggesting the number of staff involved into making claims is higher than previously thought.
Former chancellor George Osborne said Mr Sunak may soon carry out a reshuffle so he can replace Mr Raab without firing him before the conclusion of the independent probe by Adam Tolley KC.
“I think he’s likely to be moved in an imminent reshuffle,” Mr Osborne told Channel 4’s The Andrew Neil Show. “I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s told: go and sort out these allegations on the backbenches, and if you are cleared, you can come back.”
Mr Sunak has already lost two cabinet ministers after he was forced to sack Nadhim Zahawi as Tory party chairman over a “serious breach” of the ministerial code after The Independent revealed that HMRC was investigating his tax affairs.
Sir Gavin Williamson stood down as education secretary last November after a series of bullying allegations – including a claim he told a civil servant to “slit your throat”.
Meanwhile, the public appointments watchdog is to investigate the appointment of BBC chairman Richard Sharp amid claims he helped Mr Johnson secure an £800,000 loan while he was at No 10.
In other worrying news for Mr Sunak, the Savanta polling found that more voters view Labour as the party of low taxes than the Tories. Only 20 per cent linked Mr Sunak’s party with low tax rates, while 33 view Sir Keir Starmer’s party the same way.
In a 4,000-word essay, Liz Truss insisted that her own radical plan to cut tax and borrow more at a time of inflation was the right one – taking a swipe at successor over tax rises.
Tory MPs have called on Mr Sunak and chancellor Jeremy Hunt to offer “light at the end of the tunnel” by promising tax cuts at his March budget. But Mr Hunt has resisted calls from “depressed” backbenchers to commit to cutting taxes.
The survey also found that 60 per cent of respondents think the Conservatives are the party of the rich, compared to just 11 per cent who say the same of Labour.
While only 20 per cent said the Tories were the party of “intelligence”, 30 per cent said the same about the Labour party. Some 34 per cent felt Mr Sunak’s party represented “hostility”, while only 21 per cent said the same of Sir Keir’s party.
The Savanta ComRes poll of 2,064 people was conducted between 27 and 29 of January.