I’ve always voted Labour, but this time around I'm with Rishi

Thomas Balogun, 41, believes that Rishi Sunak is a steadying hand as the UK continues to recover from the economic impact of COVID

As part of its election coverage, Yahoo News is speaking to voters around the country on the issues that will sway their vote. Read more from our election 'Your Voice' series here as we get closer to polling day on 4 July.

Your voice
Your voice
Thomas Balogun is voting based on the economy. (image supplied)
Thomas Balogun is voting based on the economy. (image supplied)

Thomas Balogun knows that the health service is in crisis. His own brother is an anaesthetist working in an NHS hospital and recently messaged him during a difficult shift to remind him as much. But as the 41-year-old entrepreneur prepares to vote in the general election, it is the economy that is at the forefront of his mind. And he believes that Rishi Sunak is a steadying hand as the UK continues to recover from the economic impact of COVID, rising global energy prices and shocks in the mortgage market.

While polls suggest the majority of voters are moving away from the Conservative Party and towards Labour, Balogun is taking the opposite journey. “I’ve always voted Labour but this time around I seem to like Rishi Sunak. We need some stability and I do give him credit for that,” he says.

Born in Nigeria, he moved to the UK to settle in Essex, where he has a background in cyber security but now holds a large property portfolio as well as running a sustainability consultancy business. He says the economy is the most important policy area for him as a voter and that, despite their popularity, he doesn’t believe Keir Starmer could do any better than Sunak is already managing. And as the world is in such a perilous place, “it’s better to go for someone you already know and who has been making a difference. From an economic perspective they’ve been good,” he says.

As a portfolio landlord, he has been hit by changes in the lending markets following the market turmoil during the short premier of Liz Truss, who was Conservative prime minister for just 45 days. “Gone are the days when I had under 2 per cent for a residential mortgage,” he says. “Now it’s 5 or 6 per cent. That’s a big jump, but it’s because of what’s going on within the global economy. You have to look at it from a different perspective and see what’s really affecting this. Interest rates have gone very high but that’s not just down to lenders. Lots of money has to be paid back because of the stimulus. And as a country we’ve supported wars abroad which is quite expensive, so that has its own impact.”

Your guide to voting

The manifestos

The leaders

Like many landlords, he has taken “difficult decisions” in the last two years but says he is now feeling the benefit of Sunak’s plan to restore economic growth.

Many voters are turning away from the Conservatives because they are angry about the Partygate scandal, but Balogun describes this as an “emotional” choice, albeit an understandable one. He, however, says he wants to make a “logical choices” in this general election - which he believes is to keep give the Conservatives a fourth term in power because the opposition couldn’t do any better with the facts as they are today. “The support the UK prime minister needs to give to Nato isn’t going to change,” he explains. “That’s something that still has to continue.”

Balogun trusts that politicians are doing their best, often under high pressure, particularly during the COVID era. “They are taking the best decisions they can. What else can you do? It’s always a bit dicey taking fast decisions on low levels of information available,” he says.

If Sunak is reelected, sorting out the NHS would be a top priority for Balogun, who has had to seek private healthcare at Harley Street in the last two years because of the impossibility of getting an appointment and routine tests booked through his local GP surgery. He says: “It’s overstretched. It’s the same as policing. They are both so significant that I think they need to be given extra funding.”

How could the next prime minister achieve that? Whether it’s Starmer or Sunak in Number 10, he would like to see the new leader redirecting funding from foreign aid and investment in order to focus on rebuilding the health system and employing doctors. “It needs to be well funded.”

Read more: