Labour’s lead of the vote share has dropped back to five points, down from seven before Christmas, new figures show.
A recent poll revealed Labour now has 39 per cent of the vote share, unchanged from late December, whilst the Tories are on 34 per cent. The Liberal Dems are on 11 per cent, and the Green Party are on 5 per cent.
The figures come as prime minister Boris Johnson’s approval climbs from -31 per cent before Christmas to -24 per cent, according to the latest Opinium survey. Meanwhile, Labour leader Keir Starmer maintains his approval rating at three per cent, compared to four per cent before Christmas.
Johnson versus Starmer
The survey also shows seven in ten have seen their living costs rising more than their household income over the past year, amounting to 70 per cent of respondents facing financial struggles.
Although Johnson has seen an optimistic turn to his approval rating, only 22 per cent of voters now think he is trustworthy – compared to 31 per cent in 2021. And only 33 per cent think the prime minister can fight for the UK’s interests abroad – down 10 points.
On Starmer, 31 per cent now think he is a strong leader, compared to 22 last year, and 30 per cent believe he can get things done.
The figures come as voters overwhelmingly admitted an increase in living costs, amounting to 86 per cent. In addition, 83 per cent felt an increase in grocery bills, whilst 80 per cent noticed a rise in energy bills and 59 per cent saw an increase in council tax.
Trend of rising living costs ‘to continue’
The trend of living costs rising more than household income is thought to continue until 2023, with 42 per cent believing the economy will worsen over the next 12 months.
James Crouch, Opinium senior political research manager, said: “Economic pessimism is at one of the highest levels since the beginning of the pandemic, with over two in five expecting the state of the economy to get worse in 2022. A large majority have already seen bills rise faster than incomes and two thirds expect that to continue this year.
“The first obvious option which has already been downplayed by the prime minister – a VAT cut on energy bills – happens to find its greatest support amongst the Conservative Party’s own voters.”
Labour accuse Tories of broken Brexit promise on energy bills
Meanwhile, Labour accused Boris Johnson of breaking a Brexit promise made during the 2016 EU referendum campaign on slashing VAT from household energy bills.
The prime minister rejected calls for VAT to be removed, arguing it is not the best way to help those who struggle with rising energy costs, and labelling its removal as “a blunt instrument”.
At the same time, he claimed he is not ruling out other measures – but did not say what those might be.