Sir Keir Starmer has warned his Labour frontbenchers Rishi Sunak will lead the Conservative Party to a “significant poll bounce” as he begins to recover some of the ground lost by predecessor Liz Truss. The pair will face off for the first time during Prime Minister’s Questions (PMQs) in the House of Commons on Wednesday. Today, the Labour Party leader told a meeting of his Shadow Cabinet Mr Sunak “has only ever fought one leadership election battle his entire life and got thrashed by Liz Truss, and no wonder he doesn’t want to fight a general election”.
He said his party has three messages to remember: the Tories had put their “party first, country second”, the UK Government wanted to make working people pay for their mistakes and that shadow ministers should “ignore the noise” if poll leads start to collapse.
Sir Keir said Mr Sunak would now present a different challenge to his predecessors Liz Truss and Boris Johnson but is clearly worried about the new Prime Minister leading a recovery in the polls.
The Labour leader said: “We all know Rishi Sunak is going to give them a significant poll bounce. He’s going to get a double bounce: the usual new prime minister bounce plus the one Liz Truss managed to bungle.”
Labour has stormed ahead in several Westminster polling intention polls, with the gap sometimes stretching to more than 30 percent, as Sir Keir continues to lead calls for an immediate general election.
Tory popularity among UK voters has collapsed in recent weeks, particularly following the aftermath of the disastrous mini-budget just over a month ago that sent shockwaves through financial markets.
Then-Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng announced tax cuts totalling a staggering £45billion, but the move backfired badly as the pound plunged to a record low against the US dollar and the Bank of England was forced to intervene to steady the sinking ship.
But Sir Keir told his Shadow Cabinet during the meeting nobody ever believed Labour’s massive lead in the polls would ever really impact the status quo.
He added: “No one in this room ever thought the polls were anything but an enjoyable story. That’s why we’ve said all along, no complacency, no caution, no letting up.”
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They also tended to think he will be an improvement on Mr Johnson, with 41 percent saying so, compared to 30 percent who think they will be about the same and only 15 percent who think he will be worse.
Earlier today, Mr Sunak formally became Britain’s third Prime Minister in two months, vowing to lead the country out of a profound economic crisis and rebuild trust in politics.
He spoke outside his new official Downing Street residence, praising the ambition of Ms Truss to reignite economic growth but acknowledging mistakes had been made.
Mr Sunak, who broke with the tradition of standing beside his family and cheering political supporters, said: “I have been elected as leader of my party and your prime minister, in part to fix them.
“I understand, too, that I have work to do to restore trust, after all that has happened. All I can say is that I am not daunted. I know the high office I have accepted and I hope to live up to its demands.”