Sunak hails ‘better times ahead’ as new report suggests weaker Labour lead

Best for Britain campaign group says its analysis points to a Labour majority of fewer than 60 seats at the next general election.

31 December 2022

Rishi Sunak has said he is confident “better times lie ahead” as new polling analysis suggested Labour’s lead over the Tories may be more precarious than had previously been thought.

In a new video posted on social media on Saturday evening, the Prime Minister said he wanted people to feel “hopeful” going into the new year after a “tough” 12 months.

Meanwhile, an analysis by the internationalist Best for Britain campaign group suggested Labour is on course for a majority of fewer than 60 seats at the next general election – far fewer than the landslide some have projected.

It warned that any tightening of the polls in the run up to polling day – expected in spring 2024 – could cost Sir Keir Starmer the election.

The finding is based on a survey of 10,010 people by pollsters Focaldata carried out around the time Liz Truss resigned in October, with a further “top-up” poll of 2,000 people after Mr Sunak became Prime Minister.

While the headline figures put Labour on course to win 517 seats in the new parliament, Best for Britain said that falls to 383 – representing a majority of just 28 – if the impact of the high number of “don’t knows” is factored in.

It said its analysis suggests the bulk of the undecideds are likely to be “timid Tories” – as they closely resemble the age and education profiles of people who say they intend to vote Conservative – who could return to the Tory fold come polling day.

Best of Britain chief executive Naomi Smith said: “These findings make clear that we who want to see the back of this nativist, incompetent, sleaze-ridden Government can take nothing for granted.”

The findings will however hearten the Tories as the Government enters the new year faced with a mountain of difficult issues – from the continuing cost-of-living crisis through to the small boat Channel crossings and the war in Ukraine.

In his latest video, Mr Sunak struck a noticeably warmer and more upbeat tone than in his official new year message earlier in the day, suggesting dissatisfaction in No 10 at the first version.

In his second attempt, the Prime Minister said: “I just want people to feel hopeful. I know it’s been tough but I am really confident that better times lie ahead.

“I may have only had the job for several weeks at this point, but actually I feel good about the future.

“I feel positive about the change that we can bring so that we can improve everyone’s lives, so that we can deliver the peace of mind that people are looking for in the here and now.”

Meanwhile Best for Britain – which strongly opposed Brexit – also published the results of a further survey of 2,000 adults, which it commissioned from pollsters Opinium, which showed of those who intended to vote Labour, 44% thought Sir Keir was wrong to rule out joining a customs union with the EU as against 19% who thought he was right.

Ms Smith said: “By removing trade barriers with our closest neighbours and removing his own red lines, in one stroke Keir Starmer can solidify his electoral support and throw businesses and consumers a desperately needed lifeline.”

Such a call is however unlikely to sway the Labour leader who will not want to jeopardise his efforts to win back the Leave voting “red wall” seats which switched to the Tories at the last election.

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