Techne UK chief Michela Morizzo discusses this week’s polls
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Rishi Sunak is expected to unveil details of his compromise deal with the EU on Northern Ireland this week in what could be a make or break week for the struggling Prime Minister. But with Tory MPs openly plotting to remove him this spring and Boris Johnson on manoeuvres, new exclusive polling for Express.co.uk shows that Mr Sunak is still behind Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer and only narrowly ahead of his predecessor in “best Prime Minister” questions.
It comes as yesterday Mr Johnson made his boldest move yet to undermine Mr Sunak’s position making it clear he would lead any attempt to resist an EU compromise on Northern Ireland’s sovereignty.
In an article for the Sunday Telegraph he urged Mr Sunak to stick to the Northern Ireland protocol bill to free the province from EU rule.
But with voters still unsure about a Prime Minister who was installed by Tory MPs in October last year without an election or even a vote by party members, Mr Sunak is struggling to close the gap on Sir Keir.
According to the Techne UK fortnightly best PM survey of 1,624 voters for Express.co.uk, the Labour leader still has a six point lead with 45 percent to 39 percent.
His figures are bolstered by younger voters with 18-to-34-year olds splitting 51 percent to 35 percent in his favour and 35-to-44-year-olds 50 percent to 39 percent.
Interestingly, Mr Sunak polls better than Starmer with voters aged 45 and above peaking at 49 percent to 40 percent with pensioners aged 65 and over.
The two are still strongly identified on Brexit with Mr Sunak getting 62 percent of Leave voters from 2016 and Sir Keir getting the same number from Remainers.
With Mr Johnson lurking and sniping at him over lack of military support to Ukraine and Northern Ireland policy, Mr Sunak can draw some comfort that he leads his predecessor in the head to head best PM poll by 34 percent to 28 percent, although both are beaten by the 38 percent who say “neither” or “don’t know”.
However, among older voters aged 65 and over who are the core supporters of the Tories, Mr Johnson leads by 36 percent to 33 percent.
But Mr Sunak leads among 2019 Tory voters by 45 percent to 37 percent while Leave voters are almost evenyl split by 38 percent for Sunak and 37 percent for Johnson.
Despite this many Tory MPs believe that Mr Johnson would be better equipped to stave off a humiliating defeat in the election expected next year.
One said: “Boris’s figures have been harmed by the investigation into him [over allegedly misleading Parliament] and all the Partygate nonsense.
“The reality is though that only he has the cut through with voters and can bring the different parts of the coalition wthat gave us that huge victory in 2019 together.”
Sunak supporters though argue that “Boris is too damaged.”
However, with the party still lagging 21 points behind Labour in the polls, some MPs believe that “a betrayal” over Northern Ireland could be the end of Sunak.
One former minister said: “Sunak has taken control of these talks for good reason. This is a make or break issue for him and he cannot leave it to others.
“But he is making the same mistake as Theresa May by funnelling everything through a narrow group in Downing street and not consulting more widely with colleagues.”
A member of the powerful European Research Group (ERG) of Tory Brexiteer MPs added: “If he betrays Northern Ireland there will be a chance to remove him ad even if that fails the poison left will be so bad that it will mean the party can never recover.”
A third noted: “Even if he gets Northern Ireland right, there is still the issue of the tax raising Budget next month which is infuriating colleagues and then the local elections in May which are looking dire.”
More misery for Sunak as tracker poll still gives Labour 21 point lead [REVEAL]
Sunak’s Belfast ‘plan’ has left loyal Brexiteers with more questions [INSIGHT]
POLL: Should Sunak compromise with EU to secure breakthrough in NI? [REACT]
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