Rishi Sunak vs Boris Johnson: Could Chancellor become next PM? Approval ratings compared

Rishi Sunak may have to break income tax promise says expert

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Rishi Sunak, 40, is the current Chancellor of the Exchequer. He has built his popularity through social media and catchy soundbites. Prime Minister Boris Johnson became the leader of the Conservative Party replacing Theresa May in July 2019. Mr Johnson’s approval rating increased in recent weeks. Express.co.uk talks to a political commentator about Mr Sunak’s odds of becoming the next prime minister and how strong Mr Johnson’s performance is currently.

Mr Johnson’s personal approval rating surpassed that of Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer for the first time since May last year according to a new poll.

The PM’s approval rating has increased by six percentage points to 45 percent over the fortnight to March 14.

Mr Johnson’s disapproval rating is at 38 percent, which is down three points, according to the poll.

The prime minister’s net approval rating of seven is his best since last May and, at two points higher than Starmer’s net rating of five, it is also the first time his ratings have been above the Labour leader’s since then.

Speaking of Mr Johnson’s approval ratings, the head of corporate affairs at SEC Newgate UK, Simon Gentry, said the PM is currently “enjoying increasing support”.

He told Express.co.uk: “The pollsters Redfield and Wilton show that 49 percent of the public believe Johnson would be a better prime minister against 28 percent for Keir Starmer.

“And the same polling company reported that his personal approval rating has risen in three last week by four points to +15.

“His popularity seems to be rising with the vaccination rates.”

The political commentator said he believes Mr Johnson’s popularity will increase as lockdown is eased.

Mr Gentry told Express.co.uk: “Most economists agree that the UK will enjoy a spectacular boom as the economy is unlocked and we all head back to the shops, pubs and restaurants – and take holidays in the UK.

“All that economic good news will mean rising wages and growing employment numbers.

“The Prime Minister’s popularity will increase with that burst of economic activity, the summer and the return to normal life.”

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Mr Gentry added Mr Sunak has emerged as a strong candidate with both the public and Conservative MPs.

The political commentator told Express.co.uk: “At the moment the Chancellor is enjoying very strong support from the public and Tory MPs, but he has a very difficult job to do in the medium term.

“The Conservatives know that the Chancellor has not really been tested.

“He’s borrowed and spent more than anyone in our history.

“At some point, he’s going to have to take the punch bowl away and that’s going to upset a lot of people. Sunak’s real challenge lies in a year or two’s time when he will be raising taxes and trying to hold down wages in the public sector.

“He’s likely to be unpopular then. If he pulls that off, however, he’ll be nicely lined up to replace the Prime Minister when he leaves.”

The Covid crisis has cost the UK economy £251 billion, according to a new analysis from the Centre for Economics and Business Research.

The deficit is now expected to be £394bn in 2020/2021, which is £339bn higher than had been anticipated before public health restrictions were first imposed back in March.

He added: “The Chancellor is now like Father Christmas and the Easter Bunny rolled into one, he’s handing out billions in support to huge numbers of people, so it’s not hard to understand why he’s so popular.

“Eventually, however, he’ll have to stop and that‘s when things will get difficult for him.”

Mr Sunak is currently ahead of Mr Johnson in terms of approval ratings, however, Mr Gentry believes this is only temporary.

He said: “In terms of personal approval, Sunak is ahead of Johnson, but my view is that it is temporary.

“Boris will, in my view, enjoy a Summer bounce as the economy takes off.

“Mr Sunak will be left clearing up after the spending splurge.”

Mr Gentry added: “Prime Ministers don’t have to be clever, or good looking, or great speakers. They don’t have to have good advisers.

“They have to be lucky – and so far, Boris Johnson has proven to be very lucky.

“There are those who say you make your own luck in life and that’s true, but in politics, it’s really luck that counts and on that score, so far at least, Johnson has been very fortunate.”

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