Rishi Sunak’s allies came to his defence this week after Keir Starmer claimed that the Prime Minister “simply doesn’t get Britain”.
Responding to the Labour leader’s comments, the Leader of the House Penny Mordaunt told the Commons on Thursday that Sunak, “doesn’t just get Britain, he represents the best of Great Britain”.
However, a new poll commissioned by Byline Times suggests that an overwhelming majority of voters appear to agree with the Labour leader.
Asked by pollsters We Think whether the Prime Minister understands the pressures facing the average British person, 80% of voters said they believe he doesn’t, compared to just 20% who disagree.
The poll found that even many Conservative voters have their doubts about Sunak, whose personal family fortune makes him the richest British Prime Minister of all time.
According to the poll, 41% of Sunak’s own voters say he doesn’t understand the pressures facing ordinary Brits, compared to 59% who disagree.
Starmer’s claim about Sunak was endorsed by one Conservative MP this week, as he came out publicly to call on the Prime Minister to stand down.
Sir Simon Clarke wrote in the Telegraph that it was time for Sunak to step aside as, “he does not get what Britain needs [and] he is not listening to what the British people want.”
Clarke’s call followed the publication of a spate of opinion polls suggesting that the Conservative party is heading for a landslide defeat at the next general election.
Taking the Knee
Sunak this week sought to fight back against allegations of not understanding Britain by flipping the claim back on his opponent.
At Prime Minister’s Questions the Prime Minister suggested that Keir Starmer’s decision in 2020 to take the knee in solidarity with protesters against anti-black racism was a sign that he doesn’t share British values.
“He [Starmer] talks about what… Britain values. This from a man who takes the knee”, Sunak told the chamber.
However, our poll found that a clear majority of British voters believe the Labour leader was right to take the knee, by 59% to 41%.
Current Labour voters are even more supportive with 73% saying Starmer was right to do so, compared to just 27% who disagree.
Even Conservative voters appear to be split on the issue, with 43% agreeing that Starmer was right to take the knee, compared to 57% who disagree.
Despite supporting the Labour leader on this issue, most voters do still have doubts about Starmer’s own ability to understand their concerns, according to our poll.
A majority (57%) of voters say Starmer doesn’t understand the pressures facing ordinary Brits, with just 43% disagreeing.
Labour voters are more convinced in their man, with 61% saying Starmer understands the pressures they face. However, almost four-in-ten (39%) disagree.
The findings come as the two leaders begin what is set to be one of the longest UK election campaigns in living memory, with both men taking part in campaign visits around the country.
The Prime Minister ran into trouble during one such visit last week after being confronted by a former NHS worker about the state of the health service.
A clip of the encounter showed the Prime Minister laughing out loud following the intervention before moving on. A spokesperson for Sunak later insisted that he had not been laughing at the woman or her comments.