Rishi Sunak became Britain’s youngest prime minister in more than 200 years on Monday, tasked with steering the country through an economic crisis and mounting anger among some voters. The former chancellor won the support of Conservative MPs to succeed Liz Truss as Tory leader on Monday and will enter Downing Street less than two months after he lost the last race.
Mr Sunak will be the UK’s first Hindu prime minister, the first of Asian heritage, and the youngest for more than 200 years at the age of 42.
With Boris Johnson having ditched his own bid at a comeback, Mr Sunak will enter No 10 unopposed and avoid an online ballot of the Conservative members that rejected him for Ms Truss last month.
The opposition Labour Party is likely to paint him as a member of the uber-rich elite, out of touch with the pressures faced by millions as Britain slides towards a recession, dragged down by the surging cost of food and energy.
Labour Party leader Keir Starmer said on Sunday: “My focus is on the millions of people who are struggling to pay their bills, now have additional anxieties about their mortgage. I know what it feels like.
“They could have a stable Labour government.”
Mr Sunak will take office with their party trailing Labour in the polls by the largest gap for 25 years.
The Tories’ seven-day poll average currently stands at 20 percent, 33 points behind Labour on 53 percent.
Before this year, the last time Labour enjoyed leads that regularly averaged 30 or more percentage points was in the months directly after the general election of 1997, when Tony Blair led the party to a 179-seat majority.
But experts have been warning of catastrophic consequences should the Labour Party win the next general elections while Russia is still invading Ukraine.
Research Fellow at the Henry Jackson Society, Dr Stepan Stepanenko, believes it is “bad enough” some Labour MPs are in Parliament, “let alone if they were in Government,” he told Express.co.uk.
The co-founder of the Conservative Friends of Ukraine argued Britain’s relationship with its US and EU allies would also be put at risk as the Labour Party is expected to decrease military support to Ukraine in its fight against Russia.
READ MORE: Putin illness rumours sparked by video showing ‘IV track marks’
He said: “I think the relationship with Russia and Labour is unlikely to change.
“The only scope really that Labour may have is in how much support they’re offering Ukraine and how much they’re willing to devote political and financial capital to this. We don’t know if there will be an election, we don’t really know if the Labour Party will change their shadow cabinet before that, and how that will translate to the candidate afterwards, if they were to win.
“So it’s hard to predict that but most certainly, the idea that support for Ukraine from Labour will be less is valid.
“The possibility even of reducing that support is bad enough for British national security and the national interest.
“And unless the Conservatives stay in power, it’s unlikely that person will even be considered as a viable partner in the future by American colleagues and European colleagues if it was to reduce its support for Ukraine, or even drop their criticism and restraint on Russia even by small amount.”
Putin faces breakup of Russia as rebels form independence army [INSIGHT]
RAF pilots who trained China’s air force stole intel for Britain [VIDEO]
Boris Johnson pulls out of Prime Minister race [LEADERSHIP]
While most polling companies in recent days have shown Labour’s lead to be in the very high 20s or low 30s, three have put it even higher, at 36 points (Redfield & Wilton), 37 points (YouGov) and 39 points (People Polling).
The figures from People Polling put the Conservatives on 14 percent, only three points ahead of the Liberal Democrats on 11 percent and the lowest poll score for the Tories for at least 50 years.
These are the sorts of numbers that would be likely to see a landslide Labour victory at a general election – were one to take place tomorrow, and were people to vote in the same way across the country.
Labour has been ahead of the Conservatives in the polls since December last year, around the time stories first began to emerge of Downing Street parties during Covid-19 lockdowns. But until last month the lead was usually in single digits.
Double-digit leads started to appear in early September, soon after Liz Truss became prime minister.
On September 23, the day the former chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng made his financial statement in the House of Commons, Labour’s seven-day average poll share stood at 41 percent while the Tories were on 33 percent.
Since then, Labour’s lead has grown steadily, reaching 18 percentage points by September 30, 25 points by October 7 and 31 points by October 16.
Opinion polls are snapshots of the prevailing public mood, not projections or forecasts.
With the next general election still more than two years away – the latest possible date is January 23 2025 – there is plenty of time for the national numbers to change.
But polls both shape and reflect the prevailing mood of the country, in turn affecting morale among politicians and party members alike.