UK Conservatives Hit Historic Low in Polls

Truss's successor could face 'extinction level event' in next election
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 21, 2022 9:12 AM CDT
UK Conservatives Hit Historic Low in Polls
A selection of the front pages of British national newspapers showing the reaction to the resignation of Prime Minister Liz Truss, in central London, Friday, Oct. 21, 2022.   (AP Photo/David Cliff)

British Prime Minister Liz Truss resigned on Thursday, her 45th day in office—and whoever her successor is, they will have a tough task rebuilding support for the country's Conservative Party. With Boris Johnson at the helm, the party swept to its biggest victory in decades in the December 2019 election, but pollster Matt Godwin says it has now fallen to its "lowest level of support in British polling history," the Guardian reports. The latest poll puts support for the Conservatives at just 14%, with 53% for the Labour Party and 11% for the Liberal Democrats. Godwin tweeted Friday that the groups key to the 2019 victory, including Brexit supporters, have "run for the hills" and the current polling numbers would be an "extinction level event" for the Conservatives if they were replicated in the next election.

But the ruling party isn't required to hold an election until December 2024, and many of its members, if not voters, seem to have short memories: Johnson, who announced his resignation amid multiple scandals in July and left office on September 6, is believed to be among the front-runners to replace Truss. Under rules announced Thursday, candidates need to secure the support of 100 of the party's 357 members of Parliament, and Johnson's allies say they are confident he can reach that level of support by the 2pm Monday deadline, the Telegraph reports. While nobody has officially declared their candidacies yet, potential rivals to Johnson are expected to include Rishi Sunak, who was defeated by Truss in the previous leadership contest, and Penny Mordaunt, who was the last to be eliminated before it came down to Sunak and Truss.

Conservative Party authorities say that if only one candidate has the support of 100 MPs by the Monday deadline, they will automatically become prime minister. If there are multiple candidates, party members nationwide will vote in an online ballot and the new prime minister will be in place by next Friday. "But whoever wins, they will face the same problems of constrained finances and a nigh-on ungovernable party," the Economist writes in a look at Truss's premiership, adding: "It is right that Ms. Truss has gone. She has a strong claim to be the least successful prime minister in British history," as well as the shortest-serving. (More United Kingdom stories.)

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