Rishi Sunak’s push to rein in government finances is backed by Conservative voters, a new poll suggests, with one in three Tory supporters concerned that the Government is doing too little to cut spending.
A Redfield & Wilton Strategies survey found that 27 per cent believe the Government is spending too much, in the wake of hundreds of billions of pounds being committed to the Covid-19 response.
Mr Sunak has been pushing back on major spending commitments demanded by No 10, saying in an interview earlier this month that “it’s right that I’m responsible with other people’s money”.
He did not deny an assertion by Andrew Neil, the GB News presenter, that he had indicated to the Prime Minister that he “might have to take his credit card away”.
Only 6 per cent of those surveyed said the Government was spending too little, while 53 per cent said it was “currently” spending about the right amount. But one third (34 per cent) indicated that they did not believe the Government was doing enough to reduce levels of spending.
2. Government spending and taxes
Of 1,000 people who voted for the Conservatives in 2019, 73 per cent said they approved of Mr Sunak’s performance since he became Chancellor, compared to 65 per cent who approved of Boris Johnson’s performance.
1. Boris v Sunak
The findings bear out concerns among many Conservative MPs that the Conservatives’ approach to the economy, planning and the construction of the High Speed 2 rail line were responsible for the party’s by-election defeat in Chesham and Amersham, Berks, earlier this month.
Among those aware of the Government’s current planning reforms, 53 per cent agreed with Theresa May, the former prime minister, that the changes “will potentially see the wrong homes being built in the wrong places.” Only 8 per cent disagreed, with 37 per cent not expressing a view either way.
6. Planning reform
Meanwhile, 58 per cent said that HS2, to which Mr Johnson gave the go-ahead last year, was a bad investment, and 51 per cent said it should be scrapped.
The Government has been criticised by Labour MPs for engaging in a “culture war”, including over the removal of statues of historic figures and attempts to prevent controversial speakers from addressing universities. But 74 per cent of the 390 Tory voters who said they knew what was meant by “cancel culture” – involving the boycotting or removal of controversial figures or monuments – believed that the Government was not doing enough to resist the practice.
4. Cancel culture
The poll also suggested that Conservative voters wanted the Government to do more to reduce bureaucracy, with 45 per cent stating that levels of regulation and red tape were too burdensome in the UK. Some 33 per cent said levels of regulation and red tape were about right. Asked if the Government was doing enough to reduce regulation and red tape, 45 per cent said no, and 19 per cent said that it was.
3. Covid restrictions
More broadly, a majority of voters said they approved of the Conservative Party’s position and performance on Covid-19 (65 per cent), the economy (65 per cent), the NHS (61 per cent), foreign policy (51 per cent) and Scotland (52 per cent). The level of support dropped to 48 per cent for the party’s performance on crime and policing and 40 per cent for its approach to housing.
A spokesman for Redfield & Wilton Strategies said: “The Conservative Party has built a strong reputation on the economy, both among its voters and the general public, and we continue to see very strong approval ratings for Chancellor Rishi Sunak. The Chancellor therefore certainly has the credibility to make the decisions he thinks would be best for the economy.
“While there is no broad consensus among Conservative voters on government spending, there is a significant minority of these voters that does think the Government is spending too much and that not enough is being done to reduce levels of spending.”