Latest election poll projection makes even worse reading for Tory MPs | Conservatives


One of the advantages – or terrors, depending on your perspective – of a so-called MRP poll is being able to see exactly which MPs would or would not survive in a projected election scenario. And for all but 98 of Rishi Sunak’s troops, the latest news is grim.

To one extent, the Survation poll of 15,000-plus people released on Saturday night will tell Conservatives little they don’t already know. But the starkness of its detail will chill many and enrage others.

The headline figure of the poll, which was commissioned by Best for Britain, is that Keir Starmer’s party would take 468 seats against just 98 for the Conservatives, with a stonking Labour majority of 286, 107 greater than in 1997.

Using a polling technique called multilevel regression and poststratification, or MRP, Survation has put together a list of more than a dozen cabinet ministers who would be among a swathe of senior Tories to be kicked out of parliament under this result.

Just as alarming for Sunak is the fact that any Tory MP can click on the Survation data tables and see whether they are among the lucky 98. For 250 of them, it will be bad news.

If that was not reason enough for mutiny, then Survation has a parallel series of data tables, and seat-by-seat results, in the hypothetical scenario of Reform UK standing aside, which would deliver 50 more Tory wins.

While Reform have insisted that, unlike in 2019, they will not give the Conservatives a free run, many Tories will have spotted that only on Friday the party ruled out making any sort of deal with Nigel Farage, Reform’s founder and resident big beast, a definitive verdict that some Conservative MPs might see as hasty.

Where does all this leave us? The short answer, for the Conservatives, is: in a very big mess. The slightly longer version is that while it is fair to say a lot of Sunak’s MPs have concluded he is marching them at speed off the edge of a cliff, there is no real consensus on what to do about it.

The one point of agreement is that little will happen before the local elections on 2 May, when voters will pick 2,600-plus councillors and 10 metro mayors in England, as well as police and crime commissioners in England and Wales.

Given that these seats were last contested amid the Boris Johnson vaccine bounce of May 2021, a grim set of results for the Tories is already largely baked in. What could tip despondency into outright rebellion would be something worse than anticipated, perhaps the loss of the Conservative-held mayoralties of the West Midlands and Tees Valley.

But what then? Even if at least 53 Conservative MPs, the 15%-of-the-total threshold needed to trigger a motion of no confidence, were by then convinced Sunak was the wrong person for the job, actually pushing for this is a very different matter.

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For one thing, there is no agreement about who could or should take over – plus the complication that under the Survation poll, some of those supposedly in the frame, such as Penny Mordaunt and James Cleverly, are forecast to lose their seats.

Perhaps the biggest block to action is the fact that it would – for all that this is not a description normally used in political discourse – risk the party looking like an utter shambles.

If the challenge succeeded, the Tories would face huge pressure to call an election with their sixth prime minister since 2016, and their fourth since the last election. There is also speculation that Sunak would respond to a leadership challenge by simply calling an election.

The other outcome, Sunak winning a vote of no confidence, would leave him even more damaged than now, with a sizeable minority of his own MPs having publicly said he was not up to the job. In such a scenario, the Survation poll might end up looking optimistic.

Any Conservatives hoping to switch off over the Easter recess will have had their political slumber abruptly interrupted by this poll. Many will now be thinking, what next? Beyond that point lies only chaos. The only real choice seems to be, what sort of chaos would you like?

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