PMQs watch live: Rishi Sunak faces Keir Starmer
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Rishi Sunak was dealt a major blow last night after an opinion poll revealed that the Prime Minister had not delivered a boost in support for the Conservative Party in key constituencies. The Conservative Party’s chance of re-election at the next general election will depend heavily on how well they do at defending seats in both the Red and Blue Wall.
According to an opinion poll conducted for ITV’s Peston programme, Mr Sunak has not yet managed to rejoin the Conservative Party’s 2019 coalition of voters.
Sir Keir Starmer’s Labour Party has opened up a 23 percent lead in the Red Wall, despite trailing by nine points when Boris Johnson emerged victorious in 2019.
Labour has also leap-frogged both the Liberal Democrats and Conservative Party in the so-called Blue Wall to go from trailing the Tories by 29 percent to establishing an 11-point lead.
Mr Sunak has also fallen four points behind Sir Keir in the Red Wall over who will make the better Prime Minister.
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However, the ex-Chancellor is ahead of the former Shadow Brexit Secretary by nine percent among Blue Wall voters.
Commenting on the Redfield & Wilton poll, ITV’s deputy political editor Anushka Asthana revealed it was “bad news” for Mr Sunak’s party.
Ms Asthana said: “First up, I’m going to start with some bad news for the Conservatives because there is no sign of a new leader giving them a bounce in either of those two places.”
Speaking about the key issues in both the Red and Blue Wall, she added: “Top in both is the economy and no wonder with the cost of living squeeze.
“Number two, the NHS – a senior Tory adviser told me not long ago that if health waiting times do not come down that is going to be a huge electoral problem and you can certainly see that here.
“Number three, in both, is poverty and then we have a bit of a divide.
“Immigration is fourth in the Red Wall but actually, in the Blue Wall, it comes below education, tax and the environment.”
“If we just zoom in on the economy, NHS and immigration, this polling shows that Labour leads on all three issues.”
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Tory MP Tobias Ellwood warned that the Conservative Party faced a tough task following a difficult summer.
The Bournemouth East MP told Robert Peston: “Let’s put our hands up and say we didn’t have a good summer and we are starting to correct ourselves.”
He added: “It will take time for us to re-establish that trust with the British people.”
Mr Ellwood then spoke about the polarised nature of the debate on Brexit, including membership of the single market.
Red Wall seats tend to represent constituencies in the Midlands and North of England which historically supported Labour but also voted for Brexit in 2016.
Mr Johnson’s victory in 2019 came after 24 constituencies turned blue for the first time in decades.
In contrast, the Blue Wall represents affluent southern seats which voted for the UK to remain in the European Union.
Despite winning the last general election, the Tory Party lost once true blue heartland seats such as Canterbury, Chesham & Amersham, Putney and St Albans in the last years.
The Conservative Party suffered further by-election defeats in Brexit-backing heartland seats such as North Shropshire and Tiverton & Honiton during Mr Johnson’s final days in Downing Street.
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