Latest results suggest Sunak running out of time to catch frontrunner
Liz Truss is on course to win the Conservative leadership contest and enter No 10 next month, according to the latest YouGov poll.
The survey found that 66 per cent of Tory party members are voting for Truss, compared to 34 per cent for Rishi Sunak, once the don’t knows are excluded.
The YouGov survey for Sky News found that 57 per cent of members have already voted, suggesting the former chancellor is running out of time to win over undecideds.
The latest ConservativeHome survey of the Tory grassroots offers similar results – showing Truss in front of Sunak by 60 per cent to 28 per cent. Some 60 per cent of respondents have already voted.
Sunak and Truss continue to clash over the economy and cost of living crisis, with the ex-chancellor saying the foreign secretary would be guilty of “moral failure” if she does not commit to more support for the nation’s poorest.
It comes as Tory mayor of Tees Valley Ben Houchen – a Sunak backer – has said the party will be worse position at the next election after ousting Boris Johnson. “I didn’t think we should have got rid of him,” he told The Telegraph.
Houchen told the Planet Normal podcast: “Lots of first-time Conservative voters are completely bewildered, confused and actually quite upset that the Conservative Party got rid of Boris.”
Recent polls have found evidence of “Johnson nostalgia” – with Boris Johnson preferred to both Truss and Sunak by both Tory members and the wider public.
Former Tory leader Michael Howard, another Sunak backer, has defended the former chancellor over accusations of disloyalty, after his resignation last month helped sparked a cabinet revolt against Johnson.
In a piece for The Mail, Lord Howard said there was sometimes a “higher loyalty” to the nation by getting rid of leaders – as he appeared to compare Sunak to Winston Churchill.
“It may seem a far-fetched comparison to some but if many Conservative MPs in 1940 had not refused to support Neville Chamberlain, we might never have had Winston Churchill as our prime minister,” he said.
Accusing Truss of offering “unfunded tax cuts” that would lead to higher borrowing and interest rates, Howards said Sunak “has been honest with us and told us the unvarnished truth – another characteristic he shares with Lady Thatcher”.
Economists at the respected Institute of Fiscal Studies (IFS) have warned that the tax cuts promised by both Sunak and Truss are unrealistic without big spending cuts as inflation soars.
“It is hard to square the promises that both Ms Truss and Mr Sunak are making to cut taxes over the medium term with the absence of any specific measures to cut public spending,” said Carl Emmerson, the IFS’s deputy director.
Education secretary James Cleverly, a Truss backer, defended her plans for cutting tax after the top economists suggested they may be implausible.
Asked about the assessment, he told Sky News on Thursday: “Frankly what we have seen is the growth of the UK economy not be as vibrant as we would like. That is what Liz is pursuing, it is a growth strategy.”