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Rishi Sunak’s ‘stick to the plan’ mantra useless as most voters feel worse off, pollster warns

Rishi Sunak has been warned his “stick to the plan” slogan is useless because voters feel worse off than when the Conservatives came to power in 2010.

The prime minister has been told that repeatedly contrasting his own “plan” with Labour, who he says will take the country “back to square one”, will likely backfire.

“Most people would really quite like to go back to square one instead,” pollster Luke Tryl, of More in Common, told The Independent.

Rishi Sunak has been warned his ‘stick to the plan’ mantra will not win over voters who feel worse off (PA Wire)
Rishi Sunak has been warned his ‘stick to the plan’ mantra will not win over voters who feel worse off (PA Wire)

His warning came after polling the country on the infamous so-called “Reagan question”, to find out whether the public feel better off than when David Cameron entered Downing Street 14 years ago.

Ronald Reagan asked voters during a debate in the final week of the 1980 US presidential election if they were “better off today than you were four years ago”. Mr Reagan’s rival, then-incumbent Jimmy Carter, saw his polling numbers plummet and Mr Reagan won by a huge margin.

And More in Common’s latest poll, seen by The Independent, showed voters in the UK also feel worse off with the general election looming. More than half of the public say they are worse off than they were 14 years ago, with just a quarter saying they feel better off.

Meanwhile, 48 per cent of those who backed the Tories under Boris Johnson in 2019 say they feel poorer, with just a third of Conservatives saying they feel better off than 14 years ago.

As well as the public themselves feeling poorer, eight in 10 voters said they think the country as a whole is worse off than 14 years ago, with only one in 10 saying it is better off.

Mr Tryl told The Independent: “Asked Ronald Reagan’s famous maxim of whether they are better, voters across the board answer that both they and the country are worse off than they were 14 years ago when the Tories took over.

Mr Sunak has claimed that Sir Keir Starmer will take the country ‘back to square one’ (PA Wire)
Mr Sunak has claimed that Sir Keir Starmer will take the country ‘back to square one’ (PA Wire)

“That is the fundamental problem the Tories face with trying to convince the public to ‘stick with the plan’ – most people would really quite like to go back to square one instead.”

Mr Sunak has repeatedly urged voters to “stick” with the Tories in the next general election – saying that while his party was now “starting to deliver”, putting Labour into power would “take the UK back to square one”.

The poll comes after Mr Sunak ruled out a snap election on 2 May amid mounting speculation in Westminster that he wanted to coincide with the local elections.

Mr Sunak did not indicate when the election would be called, but Downing Street sources told The Independent that the date has been pencilled in for 10 October.

Polls have repeatedly put the Conservatives on course for a landslide defeat, with Sir Keir comfortably on course to win the keys to No 10 Downing Street.

And a poll on Friday will add to the headache facing Mr Sunak. British Polling Council member PeoplePolling found the Tories were backed by just 18 per cent of voters, 28 points behind Labour on 46 per cent of the vote.

With Nigel Farage’s Reform UK on 13 per cent, it would spell electoral oblivion for the party, likely setting them on course to lose hundreds of seats.

The Conservatives declined to comment.