Labour surges to record 33-point poll lead over Truss's Tories as PM hammered on economy

YouGov poll shows biggest gap between two main parties since the late 1990s as PM and chancellor to meet fiscal watchdog to try to reassure markets over aggressive tax-cutting and borrowing strategy

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said during his party's annual conference this week that it was their best chance to win power since 2010. AFP
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The Labour Party has surged to a 33-point lead over UK Prime Minister Liz Truss's Tory Party, a YouGov poll showed on Thursday, following days of chaos in financial markets triggered by the government's planned tax cuts and borrowing.

The lead was a record-high share for Labour in any YouGov poll as well as the highest figure the party has recorded in any published survey since the late 1990s, YouGov said.

Earlier on Thursday, Ms Truss defended her plan to reignite economic growth after huge tax cuts unveiled last week hammered the value of the pound and government bond prices.

Ms Truss and chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng will meet with the head of the Office of Budget Responsibility on Friday, in the latest effort by the pair to reassure markets and voters that the economic turmoil of recent days is under control.

In briefings to journalists, Treasury and Downing Street sources hit back at suggestions it was an emergency meeting, but it comes after days of chaos in the financial markets and fears of rocketing mortgage bills sparked by the chancellor’s mini-budget last week.

In a nonetheless unusual move for a prime minister, Ms Truss will join Mr Kwarteng in meeting Richard Hughes, the head of the independent spending watchdog pushed to the fore amid the political and economic fallout from Friday’s mini-budget.

News of the meeting was welcomed by Tory MPs, who expressed hope that it could mark the start of process to win back the confidence of the financial markets.

Sir Charles Walker, one Tory MP commenting on the poll, admitted that his party could be “wiped out” if an election was called tomorrow.

Former Cabinet minister Julian Smith also urged the Government to reverse course on cut to the top rate of tax, saying it must “take responsibility” for the reaction to Friday’s mini-budget.

The YouGov poll of voting intention, comprising 1,712 British adults, showed 54 per cent of voters supported Labour and 21 per cent supported the Conservatives.

The poll is particularly worrying for the Conservatives, as many of those who voted for Boris Johnson in 2019 said they would vote Labour in the next election rather than saying they weren't sure whom they would vote for.

If a general election were to be held now, 37 per cent of those who voted Tory in 2019 would do so again, meaning the party would be electorally annihilated.

Furthermore, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer was given a personal boost with three times as many of the people polled believing he would make a better prime minster than Ms Truss.

Another YouGov poll earlier this week had shown 45 per cent of voters backing Labour compared to 28 per cent supporting the Conservatives.

Three other polls on Thursday also showed large leads for Labour: Survation put Labour's lead over the Conservatives at 21 points, Deltapoll showed Labour 19 points ahead, and Redfield & Wilton Strategies had Labour 17 points ahead.

Ms Truss took office on September 6 after winning the Conservative Party's leadership contest following Mr Johnson's resignation as prime minister. The next general election is likely to be held in 2024.

Despite widespread criticism of Ms Truss's economic strategy, her Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng on Thursday doubled down on the direction and insisted that it was an essential part of resetting the debate around economic growth.

The Times reported that he had at least privately acknowledged the concerns of many in his party but told them that a failure to support his plan would play straight into Labour's hands.

Labour leader Sir Keir said during his party's annual conference this week that it was their best chance to take power since 2010, following four straight electoral defeats.

Updated: September 30, 2022, 6:55 AM