After a difficult month of polling in May, which also included a disastrous set of local election results, Rishi Sunak and the Conservative Party must have hoped that June would bring some signs of a recovery. Instead, both the Prime Minister and his party find themselves in an even worse position than when they started the month.
In Westminster, June was dominated by the fall-out from the Privileges Committee report into Boris Johnson. Johnson’s announcement of his resignation as an MP was followed by a very public row between him and Rishi Sunak about the former’s resignation honours list. The subsequent resignations of several Conservative MPs loyal to Johnson presents Sunak with the further headache of trying to defend several seats in difficult by-elections in July.
For the public at-large, the dire economic news has been of more immediate concern.
Inflation remains stubbornly high, with the Office of National Statistics last week announcing that inflation on the Consumer Price Index in May was 8.7%, defying expectations that the figure would fall. Subsequently, the Bank of England announced a thirteenth consecutive interest rate rise, lifting rates by half a point to 5%.
With a plurality of Britons citing the cost-of-living as the single most important issue facing the UK, the continuing pain for consumers and mortgage holders is a political gift to Labour and poses a daunting barrier in the path of any potential Conservative poll recovery.
Nationally, Labour’s lead in our final June poll was 18%, three points more than in the last poll of May. A week earlier, Labour’s lead had been 20%, the widest lead the party had held over the Conservatives since March.
Labour have also widened their lead in the traditionally Labour-supporting Red Wall by 10 points, ending the month with a 27% lead, their widest lead in those seats since mid-February.
In addition, Labour have overturned the Conservatives narrow one point advantage at the end of May in the ‘Blue Wall’ constituencies in southern England to now hold a 7% lead, Labour’s biggest advantage in these seats since late March.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s approval rating is down in two of our tracker polls, with a dramatic nine-point drop in the Red Wall seeing him end June with an approval rating of -16%, his lowest rating in those seats since mid-March. His Blue Wall rating (0%) falls a further three points from last month. Nationally, his approval rating is up three points, but remains in the net negative double digits at -11%.
On the question of who would be the better Prime Minister, Starmer’s nationwide lead over Sunak is now 7%, down one point from May, while Starmer extends his lead in the Red Wall by one point to 9%. Sunak’s lead on this question in the Blue Wall, meanwhile, has been cut by five points to 5%.
The Government’s current net competency rating is down in all three of our trackers this month. Nationally, the Government’s net competency rating of -28% is down six points from late May (-22%). As it stands, 48% of voters in Great Britain see the Government as incompetent, up two points from last month, while 20% see the Government Rishi Sunak leads as competent, down four points from last month. The Government’s net competency rating is down by ten points in the Red Wall to -35% and by nine points in the Blue Wall to -26%.
On policy delivery, the Government continues to struggle on the three key issues of the economy, the NHS, and immigration. On the economy, the Government’s approval rating is down from last month in each of our trackers, with its rating on the issue down by five points both nationwide (-22%) and in the Red Wall seats (-33%), and by ten points in the traditional Conservatives Blue Wall heartlands (-24%). On the other two issues, the Government’s net rating remains deep in the negative double digits in all three polls, although there has been a slight recovery both nationally and in the Red Wall.
For Keir Starmer, June has been another good month, with the Government’s struggles on cost of living issues, in particular, presenting the leader of the opposition with plenty of ammunition with which to criticise the Conservatives.
Having seen his personal ratings fall last month, the slide in Starmer’s personal ratings has been reversed in June. Nationally, his net approval improves by one point from last month to now stand at +9%, while his ratings in both the Red Wall (11%, +10) and the Blue Wall (+6%, +4) are also up.
On policy, Labour holds leads over the Conservatives in all three polls as the party most trusted on the three key election issues of the economy, the NHS, and immigration. Labour’s leads in all three trackers range from as high as 26-points in our Red Wall poll on the NHS (up three points from late May) to a relatively slim three-point advantage over the Conservatives in the Blue Wall as the party most trusted to manage the economy (overturning an eight-point lead for the Conservatives at the end of May).
The NHS remains Labour’s most trusted issue, with voters in each of the Blue Wall (33%), the Red Wall (33%), and the country at large (36%) all selecting the NHS/Healthcare as the issue they most trust Labour to deliver on.
In summary, as July begins, the Conservatives have lost further ground to Labour, who now hold significant leads in all three of our voting intention polls. Keir Starmer has seen his net approval rating improve across the board, while maintaining a lead over Sunak as preferred PM nationally. The Prime Minister, for his part, has seen his own personal ratings fall.
With no sign of the cost-of-living crisis easing in the short term, the Conservatives and Rishi Sunak could face a long, hot summer ahead, while Labour and Keir Starmer sit in a strong position.