Sunak Hit by Twin Poll Blow as Working Age Voters Desert Tories

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(Bloomberg) -- UK voters of working age have turned their backs on the governing Conservative Party, according to a new poll that underscores the challenge facing Prime Minister Rishi Sunak as he tries to prevent a landslide defeat at a general election due in the next nine months.

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The age at which Britons are more likely to choose the Tories over the Labour opposition has risen to 70 from 39 at the last general election in 2019, according to the JL Partners survey shared with Bloomberg. It comes as a separate poll published Thursday by Ipsos gave Sunak the joint-lowest approval rating for a UK premier, and the Tories their lowest ever voting intention share in a data series stretching back to 1978.

The surveys paint a grim picture for Sunak and his party as the election looms closer. The Tories trail Keir Starmer’s Labour Party by a margin that for months has fluctuated around 20 points in national polling, with little sign that strong language on immigration or cuts to personal taxes in the last six months are cutting through with the electorate.

Sunak must hold a national vote by the end of January. More immediately, the data piles pressure on the premier ahead of a set of local elections on May 2, which is seen as a key flash-point that could result in internal opponents of Sunak attempting to challenge his leadership.

JL Partners found that over-70s are now the only age group more likely to vote Tory than Labour — leaving the government ever more reliant on pensioners for support. Labour leads the Tories by 29 points among all voters under 65-years-old, the poll found. Among voters between the ages of 50 and 65, who the Conservatives would typically hope to win over, Labour is ahead by 19 points.

The research shows “how narrow the current Conservative coalition is,” said Julian Gallie, research associate at JL Partners. “The government is now torn between accommodating the remaining few Conservative voters to stem the bleeding, or attempt to widen the coalition risking older voters jumping ship to Reform,” the right-wing party founded by Nigel Farage, he said.

Ipsos found 16% of people are satisfied with Sunak’s performance as prime minister, with 75% dissatisfied — giving him a net rating of -59. That ties for the lowest ever with former Conservative Prime Minister John Major’s rating in August 1994. When opposition leader ratings are factored in, only Starmer’s predecessor, Jeremy Corbyn, fares worse, on a rating of -60 in September 2019.

When it comes to voting intention, Ipsos put the Tories on 19%, extending a record set last month for their lowest ever share. Labour scored 44% and Reform UK were on 13%.

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