Over half of Tory activists think Sunak wrong to call summer election

A drenched Rishi Sunak announced the July 4 election date in Downing Street
A drenched Rishi Sunak announced the July 4 election date in Downing Street - Wiktor Szymanowicz/Anadolu via Getty Images

More than half of Tory activists opposed Rishi Sunak’s decision to call a snap summer election, a poll has shown. ‌

The research, by ConservativeHome, showed that 58.7 per cent of Tory constituency members did not support the Prime Minister’s decision to call an election for July 4. ‌

Under a third (31.24 per cent) supported the move, while 10.06 per cent said they did not know, according to the poll of 1,200 grassroots activists. ‌

The results also showed that the announcement caught party by surprise, with many constituencies apparently unprepared to fight an election campaign. ‌

Just 28 per cent of activists believed their local Tory association was ready to do so. More than half (51.77 per cent) said they did not believe their association was ready. Around one in five said they did not know. ‌

In its commentary, ConservativeHome suggested voting may have been influenced by the Tory campaign’s troubled course, from Mr Sunak’s soaking in a thunderstorm outside Downing Street when he announced the date to his early departure from the D-Day commemorations in France. ‌

“Under three in 10 of those surveyed believe their association was ready to fight the election. Since the election date surprised everyone from the Cabinet down, this can only be expected,” said ConservativeHome’s commentary. ‌

“The subsequent row over candidates, allegations of CCHQ arrogance, and the general incompetence of the party machine will only add to impressions.”

“Finally, only adding to the impression of chaos, only seven in 10 – 71.85 per cent – of the panel were certain their constituency had a candidate selected by the time the election was called on May 22.” ‌

One in eight (13.33 per cent) reported their association did not have a candidate in place, whilst 14.81 per cent were unsure.

Few Tories have spoken out publicly over the timing of the election although it has been claimed that Isaac Levido, Mr Sunak’s political strategist and the man charged with running the campaign, was opposed to a summer poll. ‌

Prof Sir John Curtice, Britain’s foremost polling guru, said it was a mistake, while Baroness Davidson, a former leader of the Scottish Tories, suggested Mr Sunak could have avoided the return of Nigel Farage to front line politics by choosing to “go long” with an election in October or November.