Friday 25 September 2020 3:05 pm

Poll says Rishi Sunak the most popular chancellor in 40 years

Big spender Rishi Sunak is the most popular chancellor since Labour’s Denis Healey in the 1970s, according to a new poll, which showed even Labour voters are pleased with his performance.

Pollster Ipsos Mori said 64 per cent of the British public was satisfied with the way Sunak was running the economy as chancellor of the exchequer. Roughly one in five people were dissatisfied.

Ispos Mori said they were the best figures since Healey in April 1978, with whom 67 per cent of the public was satisfied.

However, the poll was carried out the week before Sunak’s latest announcement on the economy. The chancellor confirmed he would end the furlough scheme, through which the government paid 80 per cent of the wages of workers that may otherwise have been laid off.

He will replace furlough with a “job support scheme” that will see employers chip in much more. The government will pay a maximum of 22 per cent of people’s wages. Economists said it will lead to a rise in unemployment.

Nonetheless, the Conservative chancellor is strikingly popular, even among Labour voters. Just under 60 per cent of them said they were satisfied with his performance. Meanwhile, 83 per cent of Tories were satisfied.

Sunak beats PM on crisis-fighting

“Public satisfaction with the Prime Minister and the government overall might be drifting down,” said Gideon Skinner, Head of Political Research at Ipsos MORI. 

“But for Rishi Sunak his scores are moving in the opposite direction, with a near 20-point boost since March.”

Sunak rose rapidly through the Conservative party’s upper echelons. He had only been been a junior minister before being given the second-most important job in government in February.

A large part of his popularity comes from having poured money into the economy in an effort to protect it from the coronavirus pandemic.

Figures out today confirmed the UK is set to register its biggest annual budget deficit since the second world war. It has already borrowed £174bn this year, up £147bn compared to last year.

Sunak came out ahead in many categories against his boss, Prime Minister Boris Johnson. Ipsos said 54 per cent of people said Sunak was good in a crisis. Only 32 per cent said the same of Johnson.

The chancellor rated less well for “having a lot of personality”, however, with 33 per cent agreeing. Ispos said 67 per cent of people thought Johnson had a lot of personality.