‘I’m still fighting’: Rishi Sunak responds to poll that has Reform ahead of Conservatives

Rishi Sunak has responded to a poll showing Reform UK is ahead of the Conservative Party, saying he is “still fighting very hard for every vote”.

A YouGov survey published on Thursday put Reform on 19 per cent and the Conservatives on 18 per cent.

Labour was still in the lead on 37 per cent, while the Liberal Democrats were down one point at 14 per cent, according to the survey for The Times.

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Because of the first-past-the-post system, Nigel Farage’s party is still unlikely to take any more than a handful of seats at Westminster. However, overtaking the Conservatives in a poll will be seen as a hugely symbolic moment for the prime minister’s party.

Reacting to the poll at the G7 summit in Italy, Sunak told journalists: “We are only halfway through this election, so I’m still fighting very hard for every vote.

“And what that poll shows is — the only poll that matters is the one on 4th July — but if that poll was replicated on 4th July, it would be handing Labour a blank cheque to tax everyone, tax their home their pension their car, their family, and I’ll be fighting very hard to make sure that doesn’t happen.”

“And actually, when I’ve been out and about talking to people, they do understand that a vote for anyone who is not a Conservative candidate is just a vote to put Keir Starmer in No 10.

“So if you want action on lower taxes, lower migration, protected pensions or a sensible approach to net zero you’re only going to get that by voting Conservative.”

The poll’s results were released minutes before Nigel Farage, the Reform party leader, took to the stage as part of a 7-way debate on ITV, with Conservative cabinet minister Penny Mordaunt standing in for the prime minister. 

As the debate opened, Farage told viewers: “We are now the opposition to Labour”.

Also commenting on YouGov’s latest poll, election guru professor Sir John Curtice said there are now some “broad trends” emerging in the opinion polls, with the Conservatives and Labour going backwards.

He told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme: “There are now some broad trends in the polls and it is a story of both the Conservatives and the Labour Party losing ground as compared with the beginning of the campaign.”

He added: “So who is gaining? One is undoubtedly Reform. On average in the seven polls this week they are at 16 points. I think there is reason to believe that maybe that is slightly on the high side… but even so, certainly not short of 15 points.

“But the other thing that has also begun to emerge in polls this week is that the Liberal Democrats are now making some progress as well.”

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