Most British Voters Think Rishi Sunak Has Accomplished Nothing and Has No Plan

May 5, 2024
R&WS Research Team
Conservative Party | GB Public Figures | Immigration | Keir Starmer | Labour Party | NHS | Rishi Sunak | The Economy | UK Government | UK Politics

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In January 2023, in an attempt to reset his Government’s policy agenda, Rishi Sunak named five key priorities for his Government: halve inflation, grow the economy, get the national debt falling, reduce NHS waiting lists, and stop the boats.

Announcing his priorities, Sunak promised, “No tricks… no ambiguity… we’re either delivering for you or we’re not.” He asked voters to judge his Government one year later “on the effort we put in and the results we achieve.” 

Sixteen months later, in polling conducted as voters went to the polls in local elections across England, majorities of British voters say they think that Sunak will not achieve any of his priorities, that he has made no progress at all towards cutting NHS waiting lists or stopping small boats, and that he has no plan to make the UK a better place, nevermind a working plan.

When asked to rate how much Rishi Sunak has accomplished as Prime Minister, a plurality (41%) think he has accomplished ‘nothing at all,’ while just under a quarter (24%) think he has accomplished either a ‘significant’ (6%) or ‘fair’ (18%) amount.

Among Conservative voters at the last election, as many as 29% think Sunak has accomplished ‘nothing at all,’ while just 9% think he has accomplished a ‘significant’ amount. 

Regarding his five priorities collectively, 38% think Sunak and his Government have made ‘no progress at all’ towards achieving these priorities. Another 38% think Sunak has made only ‘a little progress’ towards achieving them. 15% say ‘a fair amount of progress’ has been made, and just 5% think ‘a significant amount of progress’ has been achieved.

Almost half of 2019 Labour voters (47%) and more than a quarter of 2019 Conservative voters (29%) say ‘no progress at all’ has been made towards achieving these priorities.

Taken separately, majorities of Britons think Sunak and his Government have made ‘no progress at all’ towards cutting NHS waiting lists (63%), stopping small boats crossing the Channel (54%), and reducing the national debt (51%).

A plurality believe the Government has made ‘no progress at all’ towards growing the economy (44%).

Even on the one priority the Government has ostensibly achieved—halving inflation—only 9% say ‘a significant amount of progress’ has been made, against 68% who say the amount of progress that has been made is either ‘no progress at all’ (35%) or only ‘a little’ (33%).

The discrepancy between these numbers and the fact that inflation has indeed halved since last January may be down to many voters either misunderstanding what it was Sunak was committing to when he made halving inflation a priority in the first place (i.e., they thought he meant prices would fall) or being unwilling to attribute the halving of inflation to any policies set forth by the Prime Minister (who rarely, if ever, specified any active policies to halve inflation. Saying no to spending plans is a passive policy.).

With the next election drawing ever closer, majorities of voters believe the Government has not or will not ultimately achieve any of its stated priorities at the start of 2023.

Only between 19% and 32% believe Sunak and his Government will achieve any of its priorities.

At the same time, however, voters have little confidence that a Government led by Keir Starmer would have been or would now be able to achieve the same priorities.

British voters believe a Government led by Starmer would not achieve four of the five priorities named by Sunak in January 2023, while they are split 41% each on whether or not a Starmer-led Government would be able to cut NHS waiting lists.

Nevertheless, between Starmer and Sunak, pluralities say they trust Starmer the most to halve inflation (which, again Sunak has ostensibly, achieved), grow the economy, cut NHS waiting lists, and reduce the national debt.

A plurality of 40%, meanwhile, answer ‘neither of them’ when asked who between Sunak and Starmer they trust the most to stop small boats crossing the Channel.

When 2023 lapsed and most of Rishi Sunak’s pledges had not yet been achieved, the Prime Minister began to insist, “The plan is working,” in an earnest plea for voters to trust that results are on their way.

Altogether, 54% of voters—including 41% 2019 Conservative voters—say they think Rishi Sunak has no plan for how to make the United Kingdom a better place. Only 31% think he has a plan.

An even larger majority of 64% say they think Sunak does not have a plan for the UK that is working, including a majority (52%) of 2019 Conservative voters.

By contrast, 44% think Keir Starmer does have a plan to make the UK a better place.

However, a plurality of 40% of voters think Starmer does not have a plan that will work, against 32% who think that he does.

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. Follow us on Twitter

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