Most British Adults Disapprove of Rishi Sunak After 100 Days in Office

Premier faces an increasingly antagonistic public alongside economic and political headwinds that portend ill for coming elections
February 08, 2023 at 2:00 am UTC

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s constituents have soured on him considerably during the first three months of his premiership, with disapproval of Britain’s first South Asian leader rising to 58% by his 100th day in office on Feb. 2.

Sunak Disapproval Skyrockets During First 100 Days

Share of respondents who approve or disapprove of British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s job performance
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Surveys conducted among at least 4,761 U.K. adults, with an unweighted margin of error of +/-1 percentage point. “Don’t know/No opinion” responses are not shown.

Rishi Sunak’s dismal approval ratings

  • Sunak came into office with roughly equal shares of the British public in approval and disapproval, while a similarly sized portion were still making up their minds. In the ensuing weeks, the undecideds have shifted decisively against Sunak, and now a clear 58% majority disapprove of his job performance. 
  • However, Sunak is not hemorrhaging support nearly as quickly as his predecessor Liz Truss. His approval rating fell just 5 percentage points by his 100th day to 30%, compared with a 21-point loss for Truss between her first week and the end of her 45-day tenure, leaving office with a bruising 6% approval rating. (That was comfortably the lowest approval rating ever for a leader of any of the 40-plus countries where Morning Consult conducts daily tracking of public sentiment.)
  • While the rise in disapproval is surely causing heartburn in Westminster, Sunak is actually about on par with his peer leaders in Europe. Both French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz have been hovering around 30% approval and 60% disapproval ratings since September.

Sunak has scant room to maneuver

An important factor to consider when looking at Sunak’s standing among his constituents is that virtually none of them voted for him. Instead, with the Tories desperate to avoid elections following the ousters of Truss and Boris Johnson, Sunak was chosen for the premiership by about 200 Conservative Party members of Parliament. 

Sunak has managed to take the temperature down inside Westminster somewhat, but it’s been far from smooth sailing. Inflation remains stubbornly above 10%, while major transport and health care strikes rock the country just as members of his own party want Sunak to cut funding to some of those same services. 

Inside No. 10 Downing St., Sunak has also struggled to keep his ducks in a row. Cabinet Minister Gavin Williamson left office in November over bullying allegations, for which Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab is also being investigated. And on Sunday, Sunak sacked Conservative Party Chairman Nadhim Zahawi over a previously undisclosed multimillion-dollar tax dispute

Sunak replaced Zahawi with Greg Hands, giving him a mandate to prepare the party for elections that must be held by January 2025. He also reshuffled his Cabinet to reflect a shift of priorities away from signing post-Brexit trade agreements to focus on a wider investment strategy.

The move is being portrayed as Sunak finally putting his own mark on the government, but he has a long way to go to avoid a trouncing: Politico’s Poll of Polls shows Labour running ahead by more than 20 percentage points in a hypothetical contest.

A headshot photograph of Matthew Kendrick
Matthew Kendrick
Data Reporter

Matthew Kendrick previously worked at Morning Consult as a data reporter covering geopolitics and foreign affairs.

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