Sunak and Starmer Monthly Polling Report Card (February 2023)

March 1, 2023
R&WS Research Team
Approval Rating | Conservative Party | GB Politics | Keir Starmer | Labour Party | Rishi Sunak | UK Elections | Voting Intention

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February was another good month of polling for the Labour Party and Keir Starmer, who ended January holding a 21% lead over the Conservatives. 

Labour extended its lead nationally to 27%, the widest margin it has held since Sunak became PM in October, while also opening up a lead of 28% in the Red Wall (another record lead with Sunak as Prime Minister). While their lead of 9% in the Blue Wall represents a slight one-point narrowing in comparison to the end of last month, the party’s lead over the Conservatives has altogether grown during February by two points in the Red Wall and by six points nationally.

For Sunak personally, his approval rating, despite some fluctuations, ends February more or less where it was at the end of January. Although his net approval fell to -22% nationally on 18 February, his lowest ever, he ends the month having gained a marginal point from his January rating in both the Red Wall and in Great Britain (up to -17% in both). His Blue Wall rating, meanwhile, remains unchanged from January at -10%.

Meanwhile, Sunak continues to trail Keir Starmer in most of the country on the question of which would be the better Prime Minister at this moment. Although they remain neck-and-neck on 38% each in the traditionally Conservative-voting Blue Wall, Starmer has opened up a lead of 7% in the Red Wall constituencies (three points lower than the 10-point margin he held at the end of January) and a 9% lead across the whole of Great Britain (three points more than at the end of January).

While 50% of voters in Britain still see the Government Sunak leads as incompetent, the Government’s net competency rating is only marginally lower now than it was in late January (down one point to -34%). At the same time, the Government’s net competency rating is up in both the Red Wall and the Blue Wall, by three points to -35% in the Red Wall and by two points to -36% in the Blue Wall, respectively.

On policy delivery, the Government continues to struggle massively on the three key issues of the economy, the NHS, and immigration. In GB as a whole, the Government’s net approval rating for its handling of these three issues now sits at -35% (down four points from late January), -49% (-7), and -39% (-3) respectively. 

Approval in the Blue Wall is no better, with the Government’s approval on immigration down by one point to -44%, although it has improved its rating on the economy (-33%, +5), and the NHS (-49%, +2) since January. Government approval on all three issues has risen in the Red Wall, recovering from a particularly bad poll in late January to now stand at -27% on the economy (+14), -41% on the NHS (+13), and -40% on immigration (+7).

For Keir Starmer, things look much rosier. In addition to leading a party with a commanding position in our voting intention polls, Starmer himself holds healthy approval ratings in all our tracker polls. Although his approval rating in the Blue Wall fell two points in February to now stand at +6%, his rating in both the Red Wall (+14%) and GB (+13%) are up by six and four points respectively.

At a time of major problems in the NHS—from backlogged waiting lists, to strikes by ambulance drivers, nurses and junior doctors—dominating many voters thoughts, voters in the Blue Wall (30%), the Red Wall (36%), and the country at large (44%) all notably select the NHS/Healthcare as the issue they most trust his party to deliver on.

Labour holds large leads over the Conservatives in each of our three tracker polls as the party most trusted on the economy, the NHS, and immigration. Labour’s leads range from a yawning 31-point gap in our GB poll on the NHS (that lead representing a one-point gain from late January) to a relatively narrow four-point lead over the Conservatives in the Blue Wall as the party most trusted to manage the economy (32% to 28%, down from a 35% to 25% lead in our last Blue Wall Poll of January).

Having endured a torrid few months, Rishi Sunak is at least ending February on a personal high. But it remains to be seen whether the announcement of a deal with the European Union over the Northern Ireland Protocol will lead to a reversal in the Government’s polling fortunes. As February ends, the Prime Minister remains mired in an extended poll slump, while the Labour leader and his party continue to ride high.  

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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