Conservative party could face 1997-style wipeout, Sir John Curtice claims

The Conservative party could face a 1997-style wipe-out, Sir John Curtice has forecast.

The polling expert warned Rishi Sunak he would find it “extremely difficult” to win the next general election despite some signs of a recovery.

Sir John, who is president of the British Polling Council, said while the new Prime Minister is significantly more popular than his party, voters were unlikely to forgive the Tories for the financial crisis that his predecessor Liz Truss unleashed.

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Speaking at a briefing in Westminster, Mr Sunak explained Tories had lost ground "across the whole of the electorate" due to the public deciding they "cannot be trusted to run the country".

Professor Sir John Curtice said the Tories will struggle to win the next election.Professor Sir John Curtice said the Tories will struggle to win the next election.
Professor Sir John Curtice said the Tories will struggle to win the next election.

Asked whether the Tories can win the next election, Sir John said: "History suggests that it's going to be extremely difficult.

"No government that has presided over a fiscal or financial crisis has eventually survived at the ballot box ... 1948, 1967, 1976, 1992, 2008. It's not a happy litany of precedence. Voters don’t forget governments being forced to do a U-turn by financial markets.

"It's going to be very, very difficult." He added that much would depend on the economy, but warned the "odds are against" Mr Sunak.

Pushed on whether this could see a wipe-out like the one that saw former prime minister Tony Blair win 418 seats and the Tories lose 178, Sir John said: "It's two years to go – lots of water under the bridge.

"It's pretty clear at the moment – two years out – the Labour Party are the favourites to win the next election and that for the first time in this Parliament, it looks as though they've got a half decent chance of getting an overall majority. That is a fundamental change."

Sir John said at the height of Ms Truss’s unpopularity, the Conservatives had been trailing Labour by more than 30 points in the polls, suggesting they could have been left with fewer than 60 seats if that pattern had been repeated at a general election.

He also said support for re-joining the EU has been growing steadily over the past year, with the latest polling suggesting 57 per cent would favour re-joining, with 43 per cent against.



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