It’s been a day of ups and down for both leadership campaigns. Liz Truss performed her first big u-turn of the contest, reneging on a plan to link public sector pay to local living costs following a cross-party backlash. Rishi Sunak’s supporters are talking this up as a moment that could change the dynamics of the race; Tees Valley mayor Ben Houchen and former Wales secretary Simon Hart among those to go on the attack.
But even if it does dent support for Truss, Team Sunak appears to have a long way to go. This evening YouGov published a new poll of the Tory membership: it shows that the Foreign Secretary has extended her lead over Sunak from their poll a fortnight ago. According to YouGov, Truss now has a lead of 34 points over Sunak, with Truss up seven points from the last poll. When the ‘don’t knows’ are taken into account, 60 per cent of party members surveyed say they will back Truss, while 26 per cent will back Sunak; 13 per cent remain undecided.
NEW Conservative members leadership poll (29 Jul – 2 Aug)
Truss: 69% (+7 from 20-21 Jul)
Sunak: 31% (-7)
— YouGov (@YouGov) August 2, 2022
However, in a sign that the window to change minds is closing almost nine in ten Conservative members have now made up their minds how they will vote ahead of ballot papers going out this week.
Of course, it’s possible to read too much into one poll. So it’s worth remembering that a poll by Italian firm Techne, published in the Times on Monday, suggested Truss was only five points ahead. What’s more, polling of Tory councillors over the weekend suggested Truss was only two points ahead with this group.
But in all these polls, Truss is ahead. Team Sunak insist that the race isn’t over until the campaign comes to an end. They say that what they are hearing on the ground suggests things are closer than they seem. But given that Sunak’s supporters need to fight the idea the contest is already decided, this evening’s poll is unhelpful indeed.
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