Rishi Sunak leads Tory fightback as he cuts Labour lead in poll for third time

Nick Robinson asks Rishi Sunak ‘Where was the proposal for a tax on meat?’

Support for the Tories and Rishi Sunak appears to be trending up after a number of Conservative MPs privately expressed new optimism about the party’s potential fortunes at the next election.

The positive poll is a major boost for Mr Sunak on the eve of the Conservative Party conference.

According to this week’s Techne UK tracker poll the Conservatives have cut Labour’s lead to 18 points down from 19 percent last week and 21 percent a month ago.

The turnaround appears to have been fuelled by Mr Sunak’s bold decision to postpone a number of Net Zero policies including the proposed bans on petrol and diesel vehicles, and gas boilers.

However, some MPs believe that Home Secretary Suella Braverman’s tough rhetoric this week on changing international law to tackle illegal immigration has also boosted their chances.

According to the survey of 1,633 voters among those who have decided how they would vote, Labour have 45 percent (unchanged), the Conservatives 18 percent (up 1), the Lib Dems lost a point to 10 percent despite having a conference this week, and Reform UK and the Greens are both on 6 percent.

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READ MORE: Tory MPs tell Rishi Sunak that conservative policies are key to election success

However, the prediction website Electoral Calculus has emphasised that the Conservatvies still have a long way to go.

If the poll reflected an election result the Tories would still have their worst ever return of MPs with 147 and Labour would have a majority of 206.

If non-voters are included in the results, less than one in five (18 percent) would vote Conservative, while barely half (53 percent) of those who backed them in 2019 would still vote for them.

Of the 2019 Conservatvie vote 17 percent would not vote again or are uncertain.

But the recent “chipping away” at Labour’s lead is provinding some Tory MPs with optimism.

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One minister told Express.co.uk: “Our vote has been soft in our traditional areas because of issues like tax and so forth.

“The council electins showed our vote was holding up well in the Red Wall areas.

“If our traditional voters start to come back then it will change.”

Another Conservative MP noted: “At the moment people are not focussed on the election but when they do they will ask more questions about Starmer and Labour.

“If by the new year we can reduce Labour’s lead to 10 points or less then we have a real chance.

“We saw with Starmer’s illegal immigration policy that voters did not like it and the number of U-turns they are performing is spectacular.”

Others hope that the fear of a “Rejoiner alliance” with the SNP or Lib Dems will scare voters.

Techne UK chief executive Michela Morizzo said: “On the eve of the Conservative Party Conference our regular tracker poll of current Westminster voting intentions continues to see the gap between the main parties narrow.

“It does seem that last week’s announcement around delaying the stopping of selling petrol and diesel cars to 2035 has found some favour with the wider electorate.

“Not least I would say as this policy approach absolutely helps cost of living pressures for struggling families who need to travel. Further to this, the Home Secretary’s speech earlier this week directly addressing the significant problems around illegal immigration might too be finding some traction amongst voters.

“It will be interesting to see if and what the effect of the Party Conference will be.”

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