Redfield & Wilton Strategies’ latest voting intention poll of 4,000 eligible voters in Great Britain finds the Conservative Party and the Labour Party tied for the second week in a row, with each party at 39%. The full numbers (with changes from 22-23 September in parentheses) are as follows:

Conservative 39% (-1)

Labour 39% (-1)

Liberal Democrat 8% (+1)

Scottish National Party 5% (+1)

Green 5% (–)

Plaid Cymru 0% (–)

Other 3% (-1)

Whereas it is the industry standard in the United Kingdom to only report headline figures for respondents who say they know for whom they would vote, we find it worth noting, given that the next election in the United Kingdom is likely years away in 2024, 15% say they ‘don’t know’ who they would vote for in the event of a General Election. With respondents who select, ‘don’t know,’ included in our final results, the Conservative Party and Labour Party are tied at 34%.

Among respondents who say they would vote in the event of a General Election, Labour retains the support of the overwhelming majority of their 2019 voters (86%). Only 7% of 2019 Labour voters don’t know who they would vote for in the next General Election at this moment. By contrast, 76% of those who supported the Conservatives last year say they would vote for the party in again, while 14% of 2019 Conservative voters don’t know who they would vote for in the next General Election. Moreover, whereas 5% of 2019 Conservative voters now say they would vote for Labour, only 1% of 2019 Labour voters say they would switch to the Conservatives.

In addition, just 46% of 2019 Liberal Democrat voters would vote for the party again in the next General Election, whereas 26% say they would vote for Labour instead. On the other hand, only 3% of those who voted for the Liberal Democrats in the last election would switch to voting Conservative. These figures indicate that Keir Starmer has had a degree of success in increasing the appeal of the Labour Party to Liberal Democrat voters. Altogether, analysis of our voting intention result finds a sizable share of 2019 Conservative voters selecting ‘don’t know’ while nearly 9 in 10 2019 Labour voters are saying they will vote Labour alongside a quarter of 2019 Liberal Democrat voters.

For the third week in a row, the Prime Minister’s approval rating remains below zero. This week, Boris Johnson’s net approval rating has declined by yet another four points, and it now stands at net -11% approval, the lowest level we have recorded. Among other possibilities, the Prime Minister’s negative approval rating appears most likely linked to the coronavirus crisis, where pessimism has been growing. Overall, Boris Johnson’s current approval rating is 55 points lower than the net +44% approval we at Redfield & Wilton Strategies measured in mid-April.  

The Conservatives’ reduced popularity is also reflected in the increasing proportion of the public that believes the Party has been incompetent in Government. In our latest poll, a strong plurality of overall respondents (49%) consider the current Government to be incompetent, while less than a quarter (23%) believe it is competent. The Government’s net ‘competency rating’ is -26%. Notably, a quarter (25%) of 2019 Conservative voters view the current Government as incompetent.

As the Prime Minister’s approval rating continues its downward descent, Labour Leader Keir Starmer appears to be holding strong, and this week his approval rating increased by one point to net +16%. Although 38% approve and 22% disapprove of his overall job performance since becoming Leader of the Labour Party, a third of respondents (33%) continue to neither approve nor disapprove of him. In past weeks, we have suggested that this significant degree of neutrality is likely a result of the public’s relative unfamiliarity with the Labour Leader.

With Starmer’s popularity rising and Johnson increasingly being perceived as a liability by fellow Conservatives, there is growing speculation that Chancellor Rishi Sunak might succeed Johnson as Prime Minister prior to the next election, riding on the Chancellor’s high popularity in hope of securing another General Election victory. Indeed, in the week following his announcement of the Winter Economy Plan, Chancellor Rishi Sunak has seen his approval rating increase by three points to net +36% approval. Currently, 52% approve and 16% disapprove of Rishi Sunak’s job performance since he became Chancellor of the Exchequer, an approval rating that is far higher than both Johnson’s and Starmer’s. Notably, very similar proportions of 2019 Conservative voters (63%) and 2019 Labour voters (60%) approve of the Chancellor’s job performance.

It follows that, for the second week in a row, Rishi Sunak is ahead of Boris Johnson when voters are asked which individual would be the better Prime Minister for the United Kingdom. This finding will fuel discussions among Conservatives who are thinking about the Party’s fortunes going forward. Currently, 37% of the British public believe the Chancellor would be a better Prime Minister for the UK, while 34% have more faith in the current Prime Minister.

Rishi Sunak also commands a clear lead over Keir Starmer in public opinion: at this stage, 41% think the Chancellor would be a better Prime Minister, whereas 33% would opt for the Labour leader. Significantly, 21% of those who currently intend to vote for Labour in the next General Election think that Rishi Sunak would be a better Prime Minister than Keir Starmer.

Despite Labour’s gains in recent weeks and Keir Starmer’s positive approval rating, a plurality (41%) of the British public continue to believe that Boris Johnson would be the better Prime Minister for the United Kingdom rather than Keir Starmer (36%). Interestingly, 16% of 2019 Labour voters think that Johnson would be a better Prime Minister than Starmer (which appears to include some respondents who would still vote Labour today), whereas 12% of 2019 Conservative voters think that Starmer would be a better Prime Minister for the UK.

One explanation for this discrepancy between our Voting Intention result and this question might lie in the wording “at this moment,” as the public is likely hesitant to indicate a desire to change Government in the middle of the coronavirus crisis but would be more inclined to support Labour in a post-pandemic General Election. At the same time, as polling of ours indicated last week, members of the public may also be keen for the Labour party to suggest its own solutions, rather than simply scrutinising the Government’s measures.

Overall, Conservatives and Labour are tied at 39% in voting intention for the next General Election. Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s approval rating has dropped even further to -11%. Nevertheless, 5% more respondents think Boris Johnson would be the better Prime Minister for the United Kingdom than Keir Starmer at the present moment.

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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