Sunderland shoppers not impressed by the party leaders as General Election approaches


Shoppers and business owners in Sunderland city centre have given short shrift to the party leaders as they ponder who to vote for in July’s General Election.

Opinions of Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer were shared, as well as issues important to the residents of Sunderland Central. Reform UK leader Nigel Farage was even discussed as a potential Leader of the Opposition, with the latest YouGov poll putting Reform UK ahead of the Conservative Party.

The environment, taxes, looking after the most vulnerable of society, the NHS, refugees and migration were some of the topics highlighted by voters.

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Gerard Purvis, director of Port Independent coffee and clothing shop, said: “The most important issues for me are the environment, international relations and what is going to happen with our taxes and the support people can get if they are struggling.”

Michael McKnight, owner of music venue Pop Recs, said: “As a resident of the city, looking after the most vulnerable, people who require care from the NHS, people who are fleeing war, people who are living in poverty would be the most important aspects of how I would decide to vote in the election.”

ChronicleLive also asked shoppers in the city centre for their opinions on the two party leaders. Opinion was split, with neither drawing too much praise and admiration from the public.

Yanina, who was joined by friend Pauline, said she did not have a problem with Rishi Sunak, but did with Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer, saying: “I think he needs to be in the real world.”

Liam O’Neill said Sunak was “nice, but ineffective”, but was more opinionated about Starmer. He said: “He’s very serious and very boring, but he is effective. He used to be a prosecutor, he knows what he’s doing and he’s positioned the Labour party well.”

Reform UK leader Nigel Farage split the most opinion amongst the people of Sunderland, with some welcoming his ideas and believing he would be a better Leader of the Opposition than Rishi Sunak.

Yanina said: “Nigel Farage would be better. I just think he’s down to earth, he knows what it’s all about in the real world, because half of them haven’t got a clue.”

Liam also believed Farage would be better, saying: “Farage has more about him, Rishi isn’t effective. Farage, whether you like him or not, is an effective politician, he’s dragging the Tories to the right and Sunak is doing nothing about it.”

However, both Gerard and Michael thought both would be as bad as each other, with Gerard saying: “I’d rather see the Greens in opposition if I’m honest.”