The speed of Rishi Sunak’s fall from grace from nailed on next Conservative leader and Prime Minister to someone the public really doesn’t like is astonishing and is one of the more remarkable things in the history of British politics.
The only real rival to this rapid fall is Theresa May’s going from the PM who was on course for a majority of 290 seats to losing David Cameron’s majority in a little over seven weeks. Tomorrow is the fifth anniversary of Mrs May’s (in)famous decision to call that election, and she never really recovered from that election.
The poll by YouGov published in The Times yesterday confirmed the recent sub optimal polling for Sunak across several pollsters.
A new Opinium poll for the Observer suggests that the fines for Johnson and Sunak have had a more immediate impact on the chancellor’s popularity, which has hit a record low. The proportion of voters approving of the chancellor was 24%, with 49% disapproving. His net approval rating of -25 is his lowest ever. Johnson remains on a net approval rating of -26.
One of the usually profitable betting strategies in the next Conservative leader markets is to lay the favourite, Rishi Sunak is on course to join the likes of John Moore, Michael Heseltine, Willie Whitelaw, Michael Portillo, Ken Clarke, David Davis, George Osborne, Boris Johnson (2016 version), and others who at various stages were the favourite to be next Conservative leader and never won the leadership election they were the favourite for.
Being government can be a hindrance, the favourites can be a the mercy of events, such as the cost of living crisis in Sunak’s case, often it can be a case that they are not very good. Sunak’s popularity was based in part in giving large part’s of the country money to stay at home, as soon he turned off that tap I expected his popularity to wane and his inability to deal with the cost of living crisis, coupled with the tax status of he and his wife surprised me. I remember some sagacious voices saying Theresa May was ‘a pound shop Gordon Brown’ at the apotheosis of her popularity.
Gordon Brown will probably have a wry smile at these events, he like Theresa May and Sunak, can relate going from hero to zero in a short space of time, all though in Brown’s case he was facing the formidable David Cameron and George Osborne which helped contribute to his polling falling, whereas Sunak and May’s was largely self inflicted. Brown’s bounce was largely down to a relief of Tony Blair no longer being Prime Minister.
[Sunak’s allies] believe [Sunak’s] best chance of becoming prime minister rests with his reputation for fiscal prudence. However, many in the party now believe Sunak’s opportunity to succeed Johnson has gone.
“It’s done,” said one cabinet minister. “Sunak’s wealth was always going to be a problem for him but there is no way back now. None.”
A former cabinet minister said Sunak’s support had moved to Jeremy Hunt, the former foreign secretary who came second in the last leadership contest.
You can get odds of around 9/1 on Hunt, I’m on odds of around 20/1 but I still think there’s a smidgen of value at 9/1 but I expect some of you will disagree.
If Sunak does go on to become the Conservative leader and Prime Minister it might be a resurrection to match the resurrection Christians celebrate today.