Polling gap is 'salvageable' says Tory MP Royston Smith
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In normal circumstances, a 30-point deficit in the polls “would be fatal”, a Tory MP has said, but “there is no real precedent” for the chaos happening beyond the control of the Government currently and, so, that gap does not “necessarily” mean disaster. As the Conservative Party looks to stabilise itself following the coronation of Rishi Sunak as Prime Minister, following the disastrous 44-day premiership of Liz Truss, Southampton Itchen MP Royston Smith downplayed suggestions that a seismic lead in the polls for the Labour Party equated to a guaranteed win at the next general election. Citing the impact of the pandemic, a war in Ukraine, the Brexit vote and a Scottish independence referendum, as well as the political chaos of the last six years, Mr Smith said the future of the Government was too difficult to predict, even with the polls.
Mr Smith said: “The first thing is that we all look at historic precedent, that being that this has never happened before, that’s never happened before. Well, how many times have we had four prime ministers in six years, three elections, a referendum, Brexit, Covid, a war in Europe.
“There is no precedent for any of this, so to say that it is all over by the shouting, is an easy thing to say but I do not know that it is absolutely nailed on.
“I say to my constituents sometimes when they complain to me about things that are beyond our control like the cost of fuel and energy, and maybe the cost of sunflower oil, for example, I say to them with the most respect and courtesy as I can, ‘Let’s just be thankful the bombs are not falling on us’.
“So, here we all are, looking at each other going, ‘It is so awful, isn’t it’. I tell you what awful looks like: awful looks like eastern Ukraine.
“Some of the things that happened to us are a direct result of those people going through the most hideous times, which we have not seen for 80 years.
“So, there’s no real precedent for any of this. In normal times, 30 points behind in the polls would be fatal and it might be, but I do not think it necessarily has to be.”
After it was announced that Mr Sunak had become the next Prime Minister at the start of this week, polls suggested the nation believed Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer would make a better occupant of No 10 Downing Street.
Asked which party leader would be the better Prime Minister, 38 percent of respondents opted for Sir Keir, while 29 percent said Mr Sunak would do a better job. A further 32 percent were unsure.
Translated into constituencies, the polling suggested that Sir Keir’s Labour would win 389 constituencies, including every single Red Wall seat, while Mr Sunak and the Conservative Party would claim 127.
And polling prior to Mr Sunak’s coronation suggested that more than half of the population would prefer to vote for the Labour Party rather than the Conservatives should a general election be called.
The polling gap as of October 23 was 31 points, with Labour at 53 and the Conservatives at 22.
But, in line with Mr Smith’s arguments, such a deficit appears less insurmountable given nearly one-third of the country seems unsure of who to vote for; a successful Sunak premiership could swiftly swing the public back towards the Tories.
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At his first Prime Minister’s Questions on Wednesday, Mr Sunak brushed off opposition demands for an immediate general election as he pledged to rebuild the public finances in a “fair and compassionate” way and to rectify former prime minister Ms Truss’s “mistakes”.
His comments came as he delayed the autumn budget from Halloween to mid-November to take into account the latest economic forecasts.
He is expected to tear up Liz Truss’s growth plan and review key spending commitments, including increasing state pensions in line with soaring inflation.
The new Prime Minister also reimposed the fracking ban in England that his predecessor controversially scrapped and was reconsidering immigration and deregulation plans in a major overhaul.
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