The economy is the top issue for voters, putting pressure on the government to take more action
The public is skeptical of Rishi Sunak’s argument that raising spending or cutting taxes too quickly would be unaffordable, according to a poll for I by Redfield & Wilton Strategies.
Two-thirds of voters think the government needs to spend more on financial support to cover living expenses as Boris Johnson’s attempted policy rebalancing appears to have gone largely unnoticed.
And while most people are aware of government efforts to ease the pressure on the cost of living, they are far less likely to say they know what ministers are doing to try to keep the economy growing over the long term.
Since the prime minister narrowly won a vote of confidence in his leadership last Monday, he has pushed ahead with a series of conspicuous policies, many of which have strong support from the Conservative base but may be divisive among the general public.
These include trying to deport asylum seekers to Rwanda, introducing legislation to rewrite the Brexit deal, and housing association tenants pledging to buy their own home.
While MPs believe the rebellion within Parliament has subsided for now, the Redfield & Wilton poll suggests many voters were unconvinced by the political blitz, nicknamed Operation Red Meat.
Just 36 percent have heard a “reasonable” or “significant” amount about plans to change the Northern Ireland Protocol, 36 percent about the right to buy and 35 percent about cutting social security payments for most workers, which comes into effect in July.
The only policies that a majority said they had a good awareness of were the cost-of-living support, the unexpected tax on energy companies and Rwanda’s immigration plan.
When asked if the government had spent enough “to help Brits struggle with the rising cost of living”, 65 percent said they needed to spend more, with 15 percent believing the current level of support was about right, and 12 percent believing the current level of support was about right Percent too much said was spent.
Only 35 percent said they were very or fairly aware of measures to “boost economic growth”. In the event the economy improves, 81 percent of voters want the government to cut taxes, improve public services or increase direct subsidies to households, with just 13 percent agreeing with Mr Sunak’s argument that the reduction of the public deficit should have priority .
The Chancellor and Michael Gove both suggested on Thursday that current tax and spending levels would remain broadly unchanged until after the inflation crisis ended, even if this lasted until 2024.
Economy Secretary Paul Scully said on Friday: “I want to go back to being a low-tax government that trusts people to spend their own money. However, we have injected £408billion into the economy because of Covid – giving us 408billion reasons to get the next piece right, to ensure the gains we have made in protecting livelihoods and businesses are not lost in these headwinds go us.”
A No 10 spokesman said: “It will never be in the government’s gift to solve all the problems that we know people will face across the country. But we think this package is the right one to support those who need it most, to give a little helping hand to people when we know they are going through difficult times.”
Mr Johnson has garnered some support from voters over Northern Ireland, where he argues that the terms of the Brexit deal he signed will create unacceptable disruption to business and society by raising tariff and regulatory barriers with the rest of the UK will.
41 percent think the EU is less willing to compromise than the UK, while 27 percent say the opposite. 38 percent would support Britain acting unilaterally to solve the problem, compared to just 15 percent opposed to the idea, and 57 percent agree the government “should try to improve the Brexit deal, even if it does.” this means more negotiations”. .
Despite the PM’s struggles, the polls suggest there are few candidates the public would support to replace him. Sir Keir Starmer is the biggest gainer with 35 per cent saying he would do a better job in No 10 than Mr Johnson, while 29 per cent disagree; 29 percent think Mr Sunak would be a better prime minister and 24 percent think he would be worse.
Other potential Conservative leadership challengers including Jeremy Hunt, Liz Truss, Priti Patel, Nadhim Zahawi, Sajid Javid and Ben Wallace all have negative leadership ratings compared to Mr Johnson. Redfield & Wilton polled 2,000 British adults for the survey on Wednesday.