Now that Sunak is PM, how do he and Starmer compare in the eyes of the public?

Lottie ThorntonResearch Executive
November 03, 2022, 9:30 AM GMT+0

Sunak closes the gap on Labour leader on who Britons think would make the best prime minister

In the short period since becoming prime minister, Rishi Sunak has already narrowed the gap with rival Keir Starmer on who Britons think would make the best prime minister. Where Starmer’s final lead over Liz Truss was 29 points, polling on 43% to her 14%, Sunak trails by four points, at 30% to Starmer’s 34%.

However, a third of Britons (33%) can’t choose between either of the leaders, including 32% of those who voted Conservative in 2019.

Sunak is seen as more decisive than Starmer, while the Labour leader is seen as more in touch

Last week, YouGov found that Sunak took office substantially more well-regarded than Liz Truss did a couple of months ago.

When compared to Starmer, however, there is not so obvious an advantage for the new prime minister.

Among the most favourable ratings Sunak receives are that half of Britons (53%) see him as decisive, 50% see him as competent, and by 39% to 24% they see him as strong rather than weak.

While Britons are notably less likely to see Starmer as decisive (34%), his figures for competence (46%), and strength (34%) are comparable to those of his Tory rival.

However, Starmer is substantially more likely to be seen as understanding the challenges for day-to-day Britons, at 42% to Sunak’s 24%. Similarly, the public are more likely to see Starmer as trustworthy, by 38% to Sunak’s 30%.

Britons are more likely to trust Starmer to make the right decisions on the cost of living, and Sunak on the wider economy

Last week, Britons highlighted the rising cost of living (62%) and the rising cost of energy (47%) as the top two issues facing the country right now. While Starmer is currently the most trusted to manage both, Sunak doesn’t lag too far behind: 43-44% trust Starmer on each count, compared to 37-38% for Sunak.

There is, however, a much more significant difference between the two regarding trust to manage the wider economy. On this, half of Britons (50%) trust Sunak, with 36% distrusting him. The group that trusts the new prime minister’s economic competence includes 40% of Labour voters and 67% of Conservative voters.

By contrast, only 40% of the public trust Starmer on the economy, while 44% do not trust him.

See the full results here and here

Photo: Getty