Sir Keir Starmer’s popularity in Scotland sinks amid Labour split over North Sea oil

Sir Keir Starmer is pictured visiting a British Steel manufacturing site with Ed Miliband on Thursday - Ian Forsyth/Getty Images
Sir Keir Starmer is pictured visiting a British Steel manufacturing site with Ed Miliband on Thursday - Ian Forsyth/Getty Images

Sir Keir Starmer’s popularity in Scotland has plummeted following claims that Labour is set to abandon support for North Sea oil and gas drilling.

A new poll, by Redfield & Wilton Strategies, found that the party leader’s approval rating had fallen into negative territory in Scotland for the first time, potentially threatening a major revival which his strategists hope will help propel him to Number 10.

The latest survey, conducted days after reports emerged to suggest that no new North Sea licences would be granted under Labour, found 32 per cent of Scots disapproved of Sir Kier’s performance while only 29 per cent approved.

The previous poll, conducted before the new energy policy was briefed, found that 28 per cent disapproved and 30 per cent approved of the Labour leader’s performance.

The energy policy, which Labour sources have claimed will be formally announced later this month, has caused alarm among sections of Scottish Labour.

Former party leader Ed Miliband, now the shadow secretary for net zero and climate change, has been blamed by some Labour figures in Scotland for what they see as an unpopular shift.

“Keir Starmer’s falling popularity is no surprise given his illogical, naïve opposition to Scotland’s oil and gas industry,” a Scottish Tory spokesman said.

“Labour have once again aligned themselves with the SNP against the views of a clear majority of Scots and their leader is paying the price for this.

“This latest betrayal from Labour shows that a Keir Starmer government would crash the North East economy, putting jobs and communities at risk.”

Labour sources are confident that they can recapture many of their former Scottish central belt heartlands from the SNP at the next election.

The party, which currently has just one Scottish MP, has been making significant progress in the polls with the nationalists in turmoil due to a police investigation into its finances.

Humza Yousaf, the First Minister, is seen as lacking the gravitas and profile of Nicola Sturgeon and polls suggest he is also far more unpopular than his predecessor.

The Redfield & Wilton Strategies poll found that Mr Yousaf’s popularity had risen slightly compared with last month, with his minus five rating only slightly worse that the minus three recorded for Sir Keir.

Asked who would make a better prime minister between Sir Keir and Rishi Sunak, 41 per cent of Scots backed the Labour leader compared with 28 per cent who chose Mr Sunak.

In Westminster voting intention, Labour’s support fell to 28 per cent in Scotland, down four on the previous month, and reversing a trend which has seen the party consistently gain ground on the SNP.

The SNP’s support rose two points to 37 per cent while the poll put the Tories on 20 per cent in Scotland, up two.

Asked how they would vote if there was an independence referendum tomorrow, 50 per cent of Scots said they would vote to remain in the UK with 43 per cent saying they would back leaving the UK.

Scottish Labour has been approached for comment.