Poll of Tory members gives Liz Truss a 22-point lead to become next Prime Minister |  UK news

Poll of Tory members gives Liz Truss a 22-point lead to become next Prime Minister | UK news

Liz Truss has a 22-point lead over Rishi Sunak in the race to become the next Tory leader and Prime Minister, according to an exclusive poll of party members for Observer.

With less than three weeks to go before the September 2 deadline to vote, the Opinium survey of 570 Conservative members puts the Foreign Secretary on 61% and the former chancellor on 39%.

The opinion polls

However, Truss’s lead is smaller than in some other recent polls of Tory voters, possibly suggesting that Sunak may have closed the gap in recent days.

She has come under increasing pressure over her refusal to support what she describes as “handouts” to help people with their energy bills, and was heavily criticized for a U-turn on pay rises for public servants outside London and the south east of England.

Opinium’s detailed questioning also reveals a striking lack of enthusiasm for either candidate when members are asked whether they would prefer one of them to Boris Johnson to lead the party and the country.

When offered the choice of Johnson remaining in No 10, or Truss taking over, around 63% of Tory members said they would prefer Johnson to remain in charge, against 22% who wanted Truss. Even more strongly, 68% said they would prefer to keep Johnson than see him replaced by Sunak, who was preferred by only 19%.

The poll found that almost three in ten Tory voters (29%) had already voted. About 47% said they would definitely vote for the candidate of their choice. Only 19% said they had not yet decided.

Opinium said that while these findings still meant it was possible for Sunak to make a stunning comeback and enter No. 10, he would have to win over almost all the undecideds and convert a significant portion of Truss beauties.

Truss’s support is particularly strong among older Conservative members, while Sunak’s is far higher among younger people. Among the over-65s, Truss is 40 points ahead, while she is eight points behind Sunak among the under-50s.

Opinium asked the members what the single most important reason was that they supported one of the two candidates. For Sunak, the most cited reason was that he would be better at managing the economy (22%), while 10% said they saw him as the most competent or intelligent.

A main reason cited by people who supported Truss was dislike of Sunak (14%). The same proportion (14%) said the Secretary of State was more honest and trustworthy, while 10% chose the fact that she had been loyal to Johnson and had not called for him to resign. About 2% of Tory members cited race or ethnicity as a reason for supporting Truss and not Sunak.

Chris Curtis of Opinium said that despite an apparent growing nostalgia among Tory members for Johnson – and a less than ecstatic response to one of the candidates bidding to replace him – it was now hard to see how Truss could fail to become the next prime minister.

“From the moment we knew the final two candidates, it has been clear that Truss has had all the momentum and our latest poll shows how big her lead among party members has become,” he said.

“With many members having already returned their ballots, it is now highly unlikely that Truss will not become Prime Minister in September.

“It is clear that Sunak’s biggest problem is trust. Although some members respect his financial arguments, this has not been enough to overcome the view among members that he is not honest or trustworthy enough for the top job, especially after he asked Johnson to leave.”

Today’s poll is the first by Opinium taken exclusively among the party members who will ultimately decide the next prime minister, as MPs reduced the number of candidates to two. The final result will be announced on 5 September.

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