Favourability: most Reform UK voters like Lee Anderson

Matthew SmithHead of Data Journalism
March 05, 2024, 3:21 PM GMT+0

Rishi Sunak continues to trail Keir Starmer in our favourability tracker results

On 24 February, the deputy chairman of the Conservative party Lee Anderson was suspended for claiming that Mayor of London Sadiq Khan was under the control of Islamists.

YouGov polling for the Times on 28-29 February shows that 43% of Britons think Rishi Sunak was right to suspend his fellow Tory, compared to 24% who think he was wrong to do so. Those who voted Conservative in 2019 are split, with 33% saying the suspension was right and 37% thinking it was wrong.

Separate YouGov research shows that Britons are almost three times as likely to have a negative view of Anderson (36%) as a positive one (13%). Half, however, don’t appear to know the former Tory deputy chair (51%).

By contrast, those who backed the Conservative party at the 2019 general election are divided, with 25% having a favourable view of Anderson and 28% an unfavourable one.

Among those currently intending to vote Conservative, a similar number have a negative view of Anderson (31%), while fewer have a positive one (19%). But among those currently intending to vote Reform UK – many of whom will be defecting 2019 Tory voters – a majority like Lee Anderson (56%), with only 18% disliking him.

Anderson is of course far from being the only unpopular Conservative politician. His previous boss, Rishi Sunak, is seen positively by only 22%, compared to 69% with an unfavourable view.

Similar proportions have a negative view of foreign secretary David Cameron (65%) and chancellor Jeremy Hunt (62%). Home secretary James Cleverly is less well known, with 39% giving him an unfavourable review (49% answered “don’t know”).

When it comes to the Conservative party itself, 70% have a negative opinion, compared to 20% with a positive one. By comparison, 39% have a positive view of Labour, and 50% a negative one.

Keir Starmer continues to be the most popular (least unpopular) political figure, with 32% having a positive view of the Labour leader, but 53% a negative one.

Shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves continues to be largely unknown, with 56% not expressing a view. One in six (16%) have a positive view of her, while 28% have a negative one.