Redfield & Wilton Strategies’ latest voting intention poll in Great Britain finds the Conservative Party leading by 2%. This lead is substantially lower than the Conservatives’ 6% lead from our last nationwide polling a fortnight ago. The full numbers (with changes from 1-2 September in parenthesis) are as follows:

Conservative 41% (-2)
Labour 39% (+2)
Liberal Democrat 8% (–)
Scottish National Party 5% (+1)
Green 5% (–)
Plaid Cymru 0% (–)
Other 3% (–)

This week, likelihood to vote increased by 4% compared to a fortnight ago, with 63% now saying they would be certain to vote in the event of a General Election in the near future.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s approval rating fell by six percentage points, and it currently stands at net -3% approval, shifting from positive to negative net approval. This week, 39% approve and 42% disapprove of his overall job performance since he became Prime Minister.

Keir Starmer’s approval rating this week remained unchanged from a fortnight ago, and it currently stands at net +15% approval. This week, 38% approve of his job performance since becoming Leader of the Labour Party, compared to 23% who disapprove. In parallel with our previous polling, about a third (32%) of respondents said that they neither approve nor disapprove of Keir Starmer’s job performance.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s approval rating has dropped by seven percentage points to net +33% approval. This week, 50% approve of his job performance since he became Chancellor of the Exchequer, while 17% disapprove. Rishi Sunak’s current popularity is significantly lower than the +43% net approval that he enjoyed on 24 August.

Although Boris Johnson currently holds a negative approval rating, a plurality (43%) think he would be the better Prime Minister for the United Kingdom when compared to Keir Starmer (35%).

Nonetheless, in a hypothetical contest between Rishi Sunak and Boris Johnson, Boris Johnson’s lead has shrunk by 4 points since our last poll to 1%, which lies within the margin of error of this poll. Altogether, 35% believe Boris Johnson would be the better Prime Minister for the United Kingdom, while 34% believe that Rishi Sunak would be.

Meanwhile, in a contest between Rishi Sunak and Keir Starmer, Rishi Sunak leads by 7%, which is six percentage points lower than his lead over Keir Starmer a fortnight ago. Between the Chancellor and the Labour Leader, 27% continue to say they do not know whom they would prefer.

The Conservatives’ reduced lead may reflect the increasing proportion of the public that believes the party has been incompetent in government. At this stage, a strong plurality of respondents (47%) view the current Government as incompetent, while only around a quarter (26%) find the current Government competent. Notably, 21% of 2019 Conservative voters view the current Government as incompetent.

The number of daily confirmed cases of coronavirus in Great Britain is rising rapidly, and the inability of the authorities to control the pandemic may be why an increasing proportion of the public believes the government is incompetent. The increase in cases has also impacted the public’s level of pessimism about the timeline of the coronavirus pandemic. At this point, a majority (51%) believe that ‘the worst is yet to come’, which is a sharp increase compared to a fortnight ago (39%). Moreover, the public is significantly more pessimistic than several months ago: on 3 June, just 30% thought the worst was yet to come.  

The increased pessimism of the British public about the trajectory of the coronavirus in the country is also reflected in the strong majority (62%) who believe that a second national lockdown is likely. Currently, only 16% consider that a second national lockdown is unlikely.

Notably, a majority (51%) of the public would approve of a second national lockdown this year, which highlights how people in Great Britain remain very wary of the potential impact of the coronavirus on public health.

In an attempt to tackle coronavirus and ultimately avoid a second national lockdown, the Government has prohibited social gatherings of more than 6 people. A strong majority (63%) approve of the introduction of the ‘rule of 6’ restriction, while less than a fifth (18%) disapprove.

Moreover, the public also supports the Governments decision to apply the ‘rule of 6’ to both indoor and outdoor gatherings: 60% think the ‘rule of 6’ should apply to both indoor and outdoor gatherings, while less than a third (31%) say people should be allowed to congregate in groups larger than 6 if they are held outdoors.

Overall, the public remains broadly supportive of the Government’s policies aimed at controlling the spread of coronavirus. Nevertheless, the rise in cases across the last several days may have persuaded many respondents that the Government is incompetent and will ultimately be unable to prevent a second national lockdown. Decreasing faith in the Government’s competency has benefitted the Labour opposition, which has made substantial gains on the Conservatives. However, while Boris Johnson’s approval rating is now negative, Rishi Sunak continues to be viewed positively, and both Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak continue to perform well when directly compared to Keir Starmer.

To find out more information about this research contact our research team. Redfield & Wilton Strategies is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules.

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