Approximately 20 percent of people in Great Britain thought Rishi Sunak was the best choice for Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. By comparison, 33 percent of people preferred Keir Starmer, the leader of the Labour party. While Sunak was clearly more popular than his predecessor Liz Truss at the start of his time in office, his popularity has gradually sunk in the intervening months. In October 2022, he was just four points behind Keir Starmer, with this growing to 12 points in the most recent survey.
Series of scandals eventually bring down Johnson
Boris Johnson’s populist instincts served him well during the political crisis of 2019, and following the General Election in that year he appeared to be in the ascendancy. After becoming Prime Minister however, several scandals harmed his popularity among voters. In particular, the breaking of lockdown rules by his close advisor, Dominic Cummings in May 2020 damaged his reputation. Far more fatal for Johnson's premiership were the Partygate revelations in late 2021. On several occasions in 2020, Johnson and senior government officials had parties at Downing Street, often when lockdown rules were at their strictest. While Johnson survived the initial political backlash, including an attempted vote of no-confidence in his leadership, he was forced to resign his position after a wave of senior ministers resigned from his government between July 5-7, 2022.
Triumph followed by disaster for Truss
Although Liz Truss won the leadership contest that followed the resignation of Johnson, her time in office was by far the shortest of any Prime Minister. In the leadership race, Conservative MPs voted in five ballot rounds to reduce the leadership contest from eight candidates to two. The remaining two candidates; Truss and Sunak, faced off in a final round where Conservative Party members would choose the next leader. Despite finishing first in all the previous rounds Sunak failed at the final hurdle, with Truss winning a plurality of votes. Truss' victory was short-lived however. After an unorthodox mini-budget resulted an acute economic crisis, she resigned her position after less than 50 days in the job. Sunak became Prime Minister in the aftermath, inheriting a country facing a huge number of problems heading into 2023.