Conservative support falls to lowest level on record, poll finds

Support for the Conservatives has fallen to below that seen under Liz Truss, while Rishi Sunak recorded his worst personal approval rating as PM.

A poll by Ipsos put the Conservatives on just 20%, the party’s worst score on record and 27 points behind Labour
Rishi Sunak press conference A poll by Ipsos put the Conservatives on just 20%, the party’s worst score on record and 27 points behind Labour (Aaron Chown/PA)

The Conservatives have hit their lowest polling score on record after a torrid start to the year for Rishi Sunak.

The poll published by Ipsos UK on Monday suggested just 20% of the public would vote for the Tories at the next election, down seven points since January and the lowest score recorded by the party since Ipsos started its regular polling in 1978.

The figure is even lower than the 23% recorded in December 2022, shortly after Mr Sunak replaced Liz Truss as Prime Minister, and puts the Conservatives 27 points behind Labour, who are on 47%.

Poll tracker graphic showing Labour well ahead (PA Graphics/Press Association Images)

Ipsos’s previous lowest score for the Conservatives was 22%, recorded by John Major in December 1994 and May 1995, only a few years before Tony Blair’s landslide win in 1997.

The slump in Conservative support follows a series of bad headlines for Mr Sunak at the start of 2024, with confirmation that the UK had entered a recession at the end of last year, two large by-election defeats in Wellingborough and Kingswood, and an Islamophobia row over comments by now-suspended Tory MP Lee Anderson.

Monday also saw former minister Paul Scully announce that he would leave Parliament, adding to an exodus that has seen more than 60 Tory MPs say they will not fight their seats at the next election – the highest total since 1997.

Mr Scully said: “Fuelled by division, the party has lost its way and needs to get a clear focus which I hope the Budget can start to provide. It needs a vision beyond crisis management which can appeal to a wider section of the electorate including younger people.

“If we just focus on core vote, eventually that core shrinks to nothing.”

Warning against abandoning the political centre ground he said: “The standard deviation model is true in politics. Most people are in the middle.

“We can work with the bell curve or become the bell-ends.”

Another poll published by YouGov on Friday also had the Conservatives on 20% and gave Labour a lead of 26 points, further compounding the Prime Minister’s woes.

Labour, meanwhile, appeared to be weathering the storm caused by the Rochdale by-election, when it was forced to withdraw support for its candidate over his remarks about the Israel-Hamas conflict, paving the way for George Galloway’s victory last week.

Despite this setback, Labour’s polling figure was only down two points on the start of the year in a survey that, if replicated at the general election, would see the party win a landslide victory.

The poll saw a significant rise in support for Reform UK, doubling from 4% to 8% since January in a development that will further alarm some Conservatives.

The Liberal Democrats and the Greens saw their positions improve slightly, reaching 9% and 8% respectively.

Keir Starmer’s personal ratings have weakened, but his party remains well ahead of the Conservatives
Scottish Labour conference 2024 Keir Starmer’s personal ratings have weakened, but his party remains well ahead of the Conservatives (Jane Barlow/PA)

Ipsos also noted an apparent “enthusiasm gap” opening up, with only 62% of Conservative supporters saying they were certain to vote, compared to 76% of Labour supporters.

Monday’s poll, based on a survey of 1,000 British adults between February 21 and 28, also saw Mr Sunak score his lowest net approval rating so far.

Just 19% of people said they were satisfied with the Prime Minister’s performance, while 73% said they were dissatisfied.

Satisfaction with Sir Keir Starmer has also fallen since January, despite Labour’s overall position holding up. Some 55% said they were dissatisfied with the Labour leader, up seven points since January, while 29% said they were satisfied.

POLITICS Labour (PA Graphics/Press Association Images)

Gideon Skinner, head of political research at Ipsos, said: “The historical comparisons continue to look ominous for Rishi Sunak and the Conservatives.

“The Ipsos Political Monitor series started in the late 70s and has never recorded a Conservative vote share this low – and the job satisfaction trends for the Prime Minister and his Government since he took office are also heading downwards.

“Combined with Labour taking leads on issues of economic credibility to go with their traditional strengths in public services, this means the Conservatives face big challenges across a number of fronts if they are to turn the situation around.”

There was slightly better news for Mr Sunak in a Deltapoll survey, which suggested Labour’s lead had narrowed to 14 points, excluding those who did not express an opinion or said they would not vote.

The survey of 1,500 British adults conducted between March 1 and 4 put the Tories on 27%, up four points from the pollster’s previous survey between February 23 and 26.

Labour was down three points on 41%, with the Liberal Democrats down two points on 9%.