British Conservatives facing massive 250-seat Labour majority, election polls suggest

Reports of leadership challenge to Prime Minister Rishi Sunak indicate Tories in panic over looming general election

Rishi Sunak and Keir Starmer. Getty Images
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The fragile authority of the UK Prime Minister has come under attack after Tory MPs mounted a plot to unseat him, it has been reported.

Latest polling has found that Rishi Sunak faces a meltdown in the general election this year, with the opposition Labour Party potentially securing an enormous 250-seat majority.

The dire state of the governing party has led alleged Tory plotters to put forward the widely respected Penny Mordaunt as their leader.

Back benchers are reportedly keen to unseat Mr Sunak in a “bloodless coup”, replacing him with Ms Mordant, who holds the cabinet position of Leader of the Commons.

The apparent plotting, reported in several UK newspapers, has come as the Conservatives remain a steady 20 points behind Labour in the polls.

An unnamed corporate business study using seat-by-seat research has shown the potential scale of defeat facing the ruling party.

It said the Conservatives could fall to under 150 seats, even less than 165 the party won in 1997 election and the 156 in the Liberal Party landslide of 1906.

Analysts suggested the best-case scenario for the Conservatives would be for Labour’s support to suffer during the election campaign and backing for the anti-immigration Reform Party to drop, resulting in a 50-seat majority for the opposition.

The Tories have a 52-seat majority with 348 MPs but according to the Electoral Calculus website this could drop to 113 seats – or in a worse-case scenario as few as 42.

A Labour majority of more than 200 seats would dwarf the 179 majority that Tony Blair won in Labour's landslide 1997 election triumph.

Despite the grim polling prospects, there still remains a possibility of Mr Sunak calling a general election in June, if forced to do so by the internal turmoil, rather than an expected date in the autumn, most likely in November.

The much-respected Defence Minister James Heappey was the latest MP to announce he would not be standing in the election, becoming the 65th Conservative member to retire, a number that includes the former prime minister Theresa May.

“It’s all last-days-of-Rome stuff,” one political observer said.

Updated: March 17, 2024, 8:57 PM