Rishi Sunak’s favourability ratings take a hit following self-isolation scandal

Matthew SmithHead of Data Journalism
July 21, 2021, 11:05 AM UTC

The chancellor’s net favourability score has fallen 16pts

Rishi Sunak has been the star of the Conservative party in public opinion terms. Having splashed the cash around throughout the pandemic, the British people have held the chancellor in very high esteem. Indeed, he has been the only major politician to get consistently positive favourability ratings.

In our last poll, conducted in late June, Sunak was seen positively by half of the country (49%) and negatively by 33%, giving a net favourability score of +16.

That has all changed now, however. As of this week, Sunak’s net score has plummeted to 0, meaning that as many people now have a negative opinion of him (41%) as a positive one (41%).

Sunak’s attempt over the weekend, along with his boss Boris Johnson, to avoid self-isolating by claiming membership of a little known pilot scheme will probably have played a part in this decline. Given the length of time between this survey and the last, however, it is impossible to say for sure exactly how much of the damage was caused by this decision and how much by other factors, like being a member of the Conservative government at a time when coronavirus cases are rapidly increasing.

The other two Conservative figures polled – Boris Johnson and new health secretary Sajid Javid – have also seen their favourability ratings slip, albeit by less dramatic levels. The prime minister’s score has fallen from -15 in late June to -23 now, with 57% of Britons currently disliking him versus 34% who like him. Of particular concern for Johnson could be the growing dissension among Conservative voters. His score has tumbled from -90 to -43 among those who backed his party in 2019, with the number giving him a negative rating having tripled from 9% to 27% in the course of a month.

Having spent a long spell out of government, we've not measured Sajid Javid’s score since July 2019, when he was still chancellor. His net favourability rating is similar, standing at -17 from -10 two years ago, with 46% now giving him an unfavourable rating and 29% giving him a favourable one.

Dominic Cummings, who was giving an interview to the BBC about his time in Downing Street during this survey’s fieldwork, remains near-universally despised. The former adviser has a net favourability rating of -74, virtually unchanged from the -72 it had been in late June. Eight in ten Britons dislike Cummings, compared to just 6% who have anything nice to say about him.

Key Labour figures remain unpopular

While the Tories might be becoming less popular, this hasn’t especially helped their opponents. Keir Starmer’s rating remains much the same as it did in June, standing at -26 now compared to -29 previously. Most Britons currently have a negative view of the Labour leader (55%), while only three in ten have a positive view (29%).

Rishi Sunak’s counterpart, shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves, remains a virtual unknown, with 69% not knowing enough about her to form an opinion (down from 75% in June). Currently one in five people hold an unfavourable view of Reeves (22%) and one in twelve a favourable one (8%), giving a net score of -14.

See the full results here