The Tories are facing an electoral bloodbath at the next election, according to “utterly miserable” new polling data.
Labour has consistently led in voting intention for months but figures from Deltapoll found that Sir Keir Starmer's party now have a 24% lead.
Prime minister Rishi Sunak is now leading a party that currently sits at 23% in the polls – a five-point drop from the previous set of results.
The survey of 2,039 adults saw Labour’s lead go up by one point to 47%.
James Johnson, who previously ran polling for Downing Street, wrote on X that the latest survey marked an “utterly miserable week of polling for the Conservatives”.
The prime minister may be hoping that his change of stance on net zero policies – including delaying the 2030 ban on the sale of new petrol and diesel cars – may give him a much-needed boost in popularity with voters.
But the ongoing cost of living crisis and his failure to connect with voters may make turning things around tricky for Sunak.
The economy remains the most important issue for voters, according to daily tracking by pollsters YouGov, with 58% saying it was the most important issue facing the country right now.
Health stands as the second most important issue with voters (44%), while immigration and asylum is third at 38%.
With just under a quarter (23%) of voters saying the environment is the most important issue, it is yet to be seen whether Sunak’s political gamble on U-turning on net zero policies will prove popular with a population struggling to pay bills and put food on the table.
Yahoo News UK has contacted Deltapoll for more comment.
While Sunak may be hoping for a turnaround in the polls, another recent survey found that three-quarters of people think the UK now needs a change of government.
According to data released by the think tank More in Common, nearly half (47%) of those who believed the country needs a new government, were people who voted Conservative in 2019.
‘Time for change’
A majority of the 2,000 people surveyed blamed the government for both the cost of living crisis and long NHS waiting lists.
Luke Tryl, UK director for More in Common, said the figures were “really, really stark”.
He said: “We know that when there’s a ‘time for change’ mood in the electorate, it’s very hard to push against that.”
However, he added, voters were “not necessarily convinced that Labour would do a better job of running the country”, with 32% saying the opposition would do better and 27% saying Labour would do worse.
Tryl pointed to recent focus groups in which voters had said they were “sick to death” of Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer criticising the government and not setting out what he would do instead.
When will the next general election be held?
With current polls looking bleak for the Tories, Sunak will likely want to wait for the maximum amount of time in the hope of turning things around.
However, with the last general election taking place in 2019, time is running out for Sunak before he has no choice than to call a new vote.
The maximum term for Parliament to sit is five years – meaning it will be dissolved automatically on 17 December 2024.
As polling day must take place 25 days later, this means that the latest the next general election can take place is January 2025.
However, Sunak can ask the King to dissolve Parliament at any time before that, technically meaning a general election can be held at any time.
But Sunak will be waiting for the best moment – usually if the Tories are gaining in popularity.
But political pressure – including from his own MPs losing confidence in his leadership – could force Sunak to go to the polls earlier than he may hope.
Former prime minister Theresa May decided to call a snap election in 2017 after her personal ratings soared and the Tories held a strong lead against Labour.
However, her gamble did not pay off and she lost her majority, forcing her to lead a hung Parliament until she quit as leader in 2019.
Boris Johnson also called a snap election later that year in an effort to settle the issue of Brexit – which resulted in a Tory landslide.