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‘Stop the Boats’ to stop Reform UK? Poll finds immigration is top priority for insurgent party’s backers – as Rishi Sunak faces a fifth of 2019 Tory voters defecting to Nigel Farage outfit


Almost one-fifth of voters who backed the Conservatives at the 2019 general election are set to defect to Reform UK, new polling has shown.

A YouGov survey of more than 4,000 people revealed 19 per cent of those who previously supported the Tories would switch to the party founded by Nigel Farage.

The polling, for research consultancy WPI Strategy, laid bare the size of the challenge PM Rishi Sunak is facing to retain the backing of past Tory voters. 

It found just over a third (37 per cent) who supported the Conservatives in 2019 would still vote for the party if a general election was held tomorrow.

As well as those switching to Reform UK, nearly one in 10 (9 per cent) would back Labour, three per cent would support the Liberal Democrats, and one-fifth (22 per cent) were undecided.

The poll suggested Mr Sunak could attempt to win back those switching to Reform UK by focusing on immigration.

Almost nine in 10 (87 per cent) of those intending to vote for Reform UK said immigration was their biggest election issue, amid the small boats crisis and recent record levels of legal net migration.

Almost one-fifth of voters who backed the Conservatives at the 2019 general election are set to defect to Reform UK, new polling has shown

Almost one-fifth of voters who backed the Conservatives at the 2019 general election are set to defect to Reform UK, new polling has shown

The polling, for research consultancy WPI Strategy, laid bare the size of the challenge PM Rishi Sunak is facing to retain the backing of past Tory voters

The polling, for research consultancy WPI Strategy, laid bare the size of the challenge PM Rishi Sunak is facing to retain the backing of past Tory voters

A YouGov survey of more than 4,000 people revealed 19 per cent of those who previously supported the Tories would switch to the party founded by Nigel Farage

A YouGov survey of more than 4,000 people revealed 19 per cent of those who previously supported the Tories would switch to the party founded by Nigel Farage

For all those polled by YouGov between 9 and 12 February, health and the state of the NHS (60 per cent) came above the economy and the cost of living (56 per cent) as the single most important factor influencing their vote.

Those aged between 18 and 49 said the economy would be the deciding factor while the over-50s believed the state of the NHS to be the most critical issue.

Immigration and health and the NHS were effectively tied as top election issues for 2019 Tory voters, followed by the economy and the cost of living.

The polling also suggested the PM is running out of time to win over voters with more than half (53 per cent) saying they weren’t interested in hearing about what the Tories would do if they win the election.

This compared to 41 per cent who do want to hear the Conservatives’ pitch. 

By contrast, 55 per cent of people do want to hear what Labour’s plans are should Sir Keir Starmer become PM, compared to 40 per cent who aren’t interested.

WPI Strategy suggested the single biggest opportunity to change the electorate’s mind appeared to be the upcoming Budget on 6 March.

More than two thirds (68 per cent) of people – including 80 per cent of 2019 Tory voters – said they wanted to hear what Chancellor Jeremy Hunt had to say compared to 25 per cent who weren’t interested.

When asked specifically about tax cuts, nearly half (45 per cent) wanted the Government to prioritise increasing the amount people earn before paying income tax.

This was of particular importance to 2019 Tory voters with 56 per cent saying, if the Chancellor had some money to spend, this should be the first order of priority.

Cuttting council tax (37 per cent) and cutting the basic rate of income tax (28 per cent) were the next most popular tax cutting policies, with very few people citing cuts to National Insurance (16 per cent) or Inheritance Tax (15 per cent) as a priority.



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