The majority of the public think Rishi Sunak is getting his priorities wrong, according to poll

Wednesday 4 October 2023

A majority of the British public think Rishi Sunak is doing a bad job delivering on his priorities as the Prime Minister prepares to address his party’s annual conference.

Mr Sunak began the year setting out five priorities of halving inflation, growing the economy, cutting government debt, shortening NHS waiting lists and “stopping the boats”.

In a poll of 1,000 British adults, Ipsos UK found widespread dissatisfaction with the Prime Minister’s performance on all five priorities.

Dissatisfaction had also grown across the five policy areas since the pollster last asked about them in May.

On halving inflation, 57% said they thought Mr Sunak was doing a bad job, compared to 55% who said the same in May. Only 14% said they thought he was doing a good job, down from 17%.

Some 54% said he was doing a bad job on growing the economy, up from 50%, while 54% said he was doing a bad job on reducing the national debt, up from 49%.

On cutting NHS waiting lists, dissatisfaction has soared with 71% saying the Prime Minister is doing a bad job, compared to 62% in May, while almost two-thirds said he was doing a bad job on stopping small boats crossing the Channel.

Ipsos director of politics Keiran Pedley said: “These numbers reflect the scale of the challenge Rishi Sunak faces to turn the Conservatives fortunes around.

“Earlier this year he made five key pledges and invited the public to judge him on his success. However, right now, not only do the public not think his government is delivering but they tend to think it is doing worst on the issues of most importance to them.”

The poll, carried out between September 22 and 26 just before the start of the Conservative Party Conference in Manchester, found Mr Sunak’s personal unfavourability rating had reached its highest level yet.

Some 52% of people said they had an unfavourable view of the Prime Minister, compared to 24% who said they had a favourable view.

The public also had an unfavourable view of Sir Keir Starmer, the Labour leader, with 42% saying they were unfavourable towards him and 28% saying they were favourable.

The poll comes as Mr Sunak prepares to deliver his first leader’s speech at the Conservative Party Conference after a week in which backbenchers have argued over tax cuts and he has faced pressure to confirm whether the Manchester leg of HS2 will be scrapped.

He is expected to pledge to focus on “long-term success” rather than “short-term advantage”, arguing “vested interests” have been “standing in the way of change” for 30 years.

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