Tories cut Labour poll lead – but are warned not to bring back Boris Johnson

·2-min read
Rishi Sunak - Leon Neal/via Reuters
Rishi Sunak - Leon Neal/via Reuters

Labour’s lead over the Conservatives has more than halved in the past week, the latest opinion poll suggested as a Tory pollster warned against bringing Boris Johnson back.

Sir Keir Starmer’s party saw support fall by five points to 45 per cent, according to the survey by Deltapoll. The Conservatives saw their share increase to 35 per cent – up eight points.

Rishi Sunak saw his net approval rating rise by two points –  to minus nine per cent – while Sir Keir’s net rating fell by five points to seven per cent.

The survey, carried out between March 17 and 20, came in the wake of prominent coverage of Suella Braverman’s Rwanda migrants plan, which YouGov polling last year showed was supported by a clear majority of those who voted Tory in 2019.

Measures taken by Jeremy Hunt in his first Budget on Wednesday also appeared to be well-received, with Savanta putting support for them at 49 per cent and opposition at 20 per cent.

The Deltapoll findings followed the same trend as smaller swings towards the Tories in YouGov and Omnisis polls last week.

They came as Lord Hayward, a Tory peer widely regarded as an authority on elections, said the relative political calm under Mr Sunak was positively affecting the public perception of his party.

“It does appear as if he is having an effect,” he said. “He may now be pulling the Tory party up and what seems to be happening is the longer he is in as PM, the less of an impact Boris and partygate is having.”

Ahead of Mr Johnson’s privileges committee hearing on Wednesday, he warned that voters “have not parked partygate” as an issue, warning that any return by the former prime minister would affect Tory prospects “in a negative way, not in a positive way”.

He added: “Having had two different prime minister changes last year, there is no credibility whatsoever that we would have another one and not say the Tory Party is finished. It would be an utter joke… The electorate would not accept another change.”

Separate analysis by election experts Colin Rallings and Michael Thrasher struck a negative note for the Tories on May’s local elections, predicting a swing of around six points that could see them lose more than 1,000 seats.