British Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, is facing a daunting task to win the next general election, as a new poll showed Labour with a huge lead over the Conservatives.
The poll, conducted by We Think on Thursday and Friday, gave Labour 47 percent of the vote, while the Tories trailed behind with 25 percent. This is a 5-point increase for Labour since the previous poll.
The prime minister may be considering calling an early election to stop the slide, as he hinted this week that he could go to the country in autumn.
However, the poll also revealed that Labour leader Keir Starmer had a 14-point advantage over Sunak when voters were asked “who’d be the best prime minister”.
Sunak’s credibility was further damaged by the resignation of former minister Chris Skidmore, who accused him of ignoring climate change.
The PM also faced angry voters in Stockport, who booed, heckled and told him to “resign” as he left a cafe.
On Thursday, the prime minister said his “working assumption” was to hold the election in the “second half” of 2024, implying either October or November. This followed rumours that he could opt for May.
Labour attacked his statement as a sign of cowardice and said Sunak was “squatting” in Downing Street.
On Friday, a leading pollster predicted that Sunak would choose November 14 as the election date.
Under the Dissolution and Calling of Parliament Act 2022, a prime minister can call an election before the end of the five-year term, which would be January 2025.
Sunak will likely pick a date that suits him and his party best.
His decision will depend not only on whether he can pull off a surprise win, but also on whether he can avoid a crushing defeat and prevent a Labour landslide like in 1997.
The next major event in the political calendar is the spring budget, when chancellor Jeremy Hunt could announce some popular tax and spending measures. The March 6 budget announcement sparked speculation of a spring election, and Sunak could still be tempted to go early if he can win over some voters.
But he may also hope for something to change his fortunes, and that could make him wait until the last moment. He will be watching three key areas: the economy, immigration and the public’s perception of Labour.