Tories hit rock bottom with 20% poll rating ahead of budget

Budget characterised as final chance to woo voters but party appears past point of return with electoral defeat almost inevitable

According to a poll published yesterday, the British Conservative party is trailing Labour by a whopping 27 points, a margin that would, if played out in the forthcoming election, deliver a Labour landslide, something on a par the former prime minister Tony Blair’s 1997 victory. The Ipsos survey for the Standard newspaper showed support for Rishi Sunak’s Tories dropping to just 20 per cent, a level not seen since 1978.

Previous Tory party low points, the paper reports, were 22 per cent under John Major in December 1994 and May 1995, 23 per cent in July 1997 when New Labour was settling into office under Blair, and 23 per cent in December 2022 shortly after Sunak took over from Liz Truss’s brief and economically catastrophic government.

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The ongoing slump in support comes on the eve of Britain’s chancellor Jeremy Hunt’s budget, which is expected to contain substantial voter-wooing tax cuts. Wednesday’s is being characterised as a last chance saloon but the party appears past the point of return with electoral defeat now almost inevitable. The size of the defeat is what’s in play now. Lose by 150-200 seats and you’ll be out of power for a decade. Lose by 80-100 and perhaps a five-year rehabilitation on the opposition benches is possible.

Sunak’s high-profile cabinet reshuffle before Christmas, marked by the surprise return of former leader David Cameron and the exit of anti-woke firebrand Suella Braverman, was interpreted as an attempt to shore up the so-called “blue wall”, the party’s southern England heartland, which has traditionally voted Conservative but was generally opposed to Brexit.


It is the inverse of the “red wall”, Labour’s heartland in the north, which switched sides during Brexit. The latest poll suggests the party will struggle to hold either wall.