Sunak favourability rises amid Windsor Framework discussions

Matthew SmithHead of Data Journalism
March 02, 2023, 9:01 AM GMT+0

The prime minister’s popularity is still firmly in the negative, however

Brexit has returned to the political forefront with the news that Britain and the EU were close to brokering a new agreement to fix outstanding issues with the Northern Ireland Protocol.

Now dubbed the ‘Windsor Framework’, Rishi Sunak is currently attempting to convince Conservative MPs to vote in favour of the measures, having already reached agreement with the EU.

Sunak’s progress on the intractable issue is likely a major reason behind his rising ratings over the last two weeks, with the number of people holding a favourable view of the prime minister has seen a seven point increase, from 27% in mid-February to 34% now. Over the same time period the proportion with an unfavourable view has fallen from 61% to 55%.

The popularity boost extends across the political spectrum. Among Tory voters favourability is up seven points from 50% to 57%, while among Labour voters it is up from 12% to 19%. More than four in ten Leave voters (43%) now have a positive opinion of the prime minister, up from 38%, while among Remain voters the increase has been from 25% to 32%.

Nevertheless, Sunak’s net favourability of score -21 still trails Labour rival Keir Starmer’s (-11) by double digits. While about as many people have a favourable view of the leader of the opposition (37%) as the prime minister, fewer people dislike him (48%). Unlike Sunak, Starmer’s ratings are virtually identical to those from the previous survey.

Sunak does, at least, remain more popular than his party. Currently 22% of Britons have a favourable view of the Conservative party, compared to 67% who hold an unfavourable one, giving a net score of -45. The party continues to be less popular than it was before Liz Truss took over in the autumn.

Starmer, on the other hand, is marginally less popular than his party. Four in ten Britons (41%) have a positive view of the Labour party, while 46% have an negative view (a figure which has fallen five points since mid-February), giving a net score of -5.