Starmer's lead over Sunak plunges despite threat of widespread strikes

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer, during a Labour Party press conference at Nexus, University of Leeds, in Yorkshire, to launch a report on constitutional change and political reform that would spread power, wealth and opportunity across the UK. Picture date: Monday December 5, 2022.
New polling has revealed the Conservatives may be closing the gap on Labour historic polling lead. (PA)

Labour has enjoyed historic polling leads over the Conservatives recently in the aftermath of the political and economic turmoil caused by Boris Johnson's and Liz Truss's premierships.

When Rishi Sunak become PM in October, he promised to run a government with "integrity" and "accountability" in a bid to turn the tide.

The scale of the challenge was laid bare by a poll from YouGov at the start of his premiership, which showed 51% of voters said they'd vote Labour in a general election. Just 23% of people saying they would vote Tory.

The gulf between the two parties was so wide it has sparked concern among Tory ranks that the party faces an electoral wipeout at the next general election - likely to be in 2024.

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However, the Conservative Party under Sunak may be starting to finally make some gains with a poll on Friday showing 42% of Brits would vote Labour - down 5% from last previous week

The Conservatives have seen a bump to 31% - up 5%.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak during his visit to RAF Coningsby in Linconshire following the announcement that Britain will work to develop next-generation fighter jets with Italy and Japan. The jets, called Tempest in the UK, are to take to the skies by 2035 and serve as a successor to the RAF Typhoon. Picture date: Friday December 9, 2022.
There have been growing fears in the Conservative party that it is facing an electoral wipeout in 2024. (PA)

Savanta say this is the lowest Labour lead it has found since mid-September - when Truss and Kwasi Kwarteng announced their disastrous mini-budget that inflicted significant and lasting damage on the UK economy.

In a further glimmer of hope for Sunak, polling from Redfield and Wilton Strategies earlier this month found Sunak is just 4% behind Labour leader Keir Starmer when it comes to who would be a better prime minister.

The positive news comes amid a backdrop of Sunak grappling with a growing number of strikes that threatens to impact millions of people in the run-up to Christmas and beyond.

A failure to deal with the issue could become one of the defining aspects of his time in office - with lifesaving services like ambulance workers and nurses threatening to walk out.

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"The government is always going to try and act fairly and reasonably," said Sunak when asked by reporters on union demands for fairer pay and working conditions on Friday.

“What I’m not going to do is ask ordinary families up and down the country to pay an extra £1,000 a year to meet the pay demands of the union bosses."

The prime minister is also grappling with the bleak economic outlook and is under pressure to offer Brits struggling with the cost of living more help.

On Thursday, Rachelle Earwaker, senior economist at the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, said "families won’t be able to get through the winter on the current levels of support".

Watch: Keir Starmer accuses Sunak of being a ‘blancmange’ PM