General election: Britons say Ed Davey would be better PM than Rishi Sunak

Matthew SmithHead of Data Journalism
June 19, 2024, 11:15 AM GMT+0

2019 Conservative voters are split on whether Sunak or Farage would be a better PM

General elections in the UK are typically a clear contest between Labour and the Conservatives, but this year’s election is anything but typically. YouGov’s most recent voting intention poll found challenger party Reform UK on 19% to the Conservatives’ 18%, with the Lib Dems not far behind on 14%.

In honour of this unusually multipolar contest (for second place at least, Labour are well ahead in first on 37%), we have put all four leaders of the largest national parties head to head in our standard ‘best prime minister’ question.

The traditional contest between the Labour and the Conservative leader is won handily by the former: 41% of Britons think Keir Starmer would make a better PM while only 21% say the same of Rishi Sunak.

In a very bad sign for Sunak, fewer than half of those who voted for the Conservatives in 2019 (45%) say that the party’s current leader is obviously a better candidate than his Labour counterpart. One in six 2019 Tories (16%) actively prefer Starmer, while 37% are unsure.

Rishi Sunak also suffers the indignity of being defeated by Liberal Democrat leader Ed Davey, by 32% to 26%.

Sunak does at least tend to be seen as making for a better prime minister than Nigel Farage (38% to 25%), although primarily off the back of his political opponents to the left. Among 2019 Conservative voters opinion is split: 38% think Sunak would be the better PM but 40% prefer the Reform UK leader.

Lib Dem voters don’t think Ed Davey would be a better prime minister than Keir Starmer

When the two left wing leaders go head to head, Starmer easily comes off the victor: 40% of Britons think that the Labour leader would be a better PM compared to only 14% for Davey.

Upsettingly for Ed Davey, he does not even win this question among those who are currently intending to vote for his party. Only one in three Lib Dem voters (35%) consider Davey the superior choice, while 39% say Starmer is better, and 24% are unsure. This reflects the extent to which much of the Liberal Democrat voter base is simply anti-Conservative – a forthcoming YouGov survey finds that 46% of Lib Dem voters are backing the party in order to stop the Tories, rather than because it is their preferred party.

See the full results here

What do you think about the party leaders, the election campaign, and everything else? Have your say, join the YouGov panel, and get paid to share your thoughts. Sign up here

Photo: Getty