Britons don’t have confidence in Johnson, Sunak or Truss on the issues facing the nation

Matthew SmithHead of Data Journalism
August 16, 2022, 9:37 AM GMT+0

All three politicians perform particularly poorly on levelling up and the cost of living

With the Conservative leadership contest drawing to a close in early September, a new YouGov survey looks at how much confidence Britons have in the two prime ministerial candidates ­– Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss – as well as incumbent Boris Johnson to manage key issues the nation faces.

Boris Johnson’s best (least bad) score comes on confidence to handle the coronavirus outbreak. One in three Britons (37%) have a lot or fair amount of confidence in the prime minister to handle the pandemic, but most (57%) do not, giving a net score of -20. Rishi Sunak comes in lower at -26, while Truss scores worse still at -39.

The clearest gulf between the incumbent and his tussling successors is on Brexit. Here, Boris Johnson scores -23, but Truss and Sunak score far worse, at -39 and -40 respectively.

Boris Johnson also leads on ‘national defence and the armed forces’, at -25 to Truss’s -31 and Sunak’s -37.

It is worth noting that across the whole survey the number of respondents answering “don’t know” for Liz Truss (22-27%) and Rishi Sunak (14-25%) is notably higher than for Boris Johnson (6-12%).

For Truss, her best lead over the other politicians is on levelling up, although she still scores a paltry -50 on this measure. Johnson takes -55 on the central agenda of his government, while Sunak comes in at -60.

Ironically, while levelling up is the issue where Truss holds the greatest lead over her rivals, it is also her joint-worst score across the nine issues we asked about, alongside cost of living. Sunak’s -60 also proves to be his worst rating.

Truss also scores highest on education and law and order, but her scores are not tremendously different from Johnson and Sunak.

Sunak fares best on the economy. Net confidence in the former chancellor to look after ‘the economy in general’ is -27, hardly a ringing endorsement, although substantially better than Truss’s -46 and Johnson’s -48.

On the cost of living, Sunak and Truss receive similar scores of -47 and -50, with Johnson languishing on -58 – his worst rating across all nine issues we asked about. Even Conservative voters lack confidence in the three Tory politicians’ ability to handle the cost of living, scoring -20 for Truss, -24 for Johnson, and -31 for Sunak.

Confidence in Boris Johnson has recovered slightly on most issues since February, but faith in Sunak’s economic skills has slumped

These questions are a repeat from February, when we put Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak under the public’s scrutiny.

For Boris Johnson, there has been a slight recovery across almost all measures. The exception is ‘the economy in general’, where his score has slipped from -41 to -48.

For Sunak, however, the picture is more mixed. The former chancellor has seen a decline on the three economic elements we asked about: levelling up (from -42 to -60), the cost of living (-38 to -47) and the economy in general (-7 to -27). His score on Brexit has also declined, from -31 to -40.

See the full results here

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