SNP ‘would overtake Tories in snap Westminster election’

Rishi Sunak - Justin Tallis/AFP
Rishi Sunak - Justin Tallis/AFP

The Conservatives would be relegated to Westminster’s third party behind the Scottish National Party in a snap election, new polling for the Telegraph has found.

The exclusive, large-scale MRP poll of 28,000 people found that if there were an imminent general election the Tories would be left with fewer seats than the SNP. Stephen Flynn, the SNP’s Westminster leader, would be the Leader of the Opposition.

The figures, from pollsters Find Out Now and experts Electoral Calculus, report Labour winning 49 per cent of the vote and the Tories down to 23 per cent.

MRP polling means results in individual seats can be calculated. The polling forecast that Labour would gain 306 seats, taking its total number of MPs to a record 509 out of 650 seats available.

The SNP is the next largest party in the Commons, with 50 MPs, while the Conservatives would be in third place with just 45, down from 365 at the 2019 election.

The Liberal Democrats would more than double their number of MPs from 11 to 23. Plaid Cymru and the Greens are unchanged at four MPs and one respectively.

Reform UK, seen as a protest party to the Right of the Tories, is forecast to win six per cent of the votes but is left without a single MP, suggesting its support comes from the Conservatives.

The polling was carried out from Jan 27 to Feb 5, before Rishi Sunak, the Prime Minister, reshuffled his ministerial team and created more government departments.

On a seat-by-seat estimate, 15 Cabinet ministers would lose their seats including Mr Sunak, James Cleverly, the Foreign Secretary, and Suella Braverman, the Home Secretary. Ex-prime ministers Boris Johnson and Liz Truss, and Kwasi Kwarteng, the former chancellor, would also be ejected from the Commons.

Chris Holbrook, the chief executive of Find Out Now, said the forecasts made “shocking reading for Conservatives”, adding: “Mending perceptions of corruption may be their best hope.”

Martin Baxter, the chief executive of Electoral Calculus, added: “The Conservatives have been far behind in the polls for the last four months, with little sign of improvement.

“They have lost support across the country, particularly in traditionally strong Conservative areas, which bodes very badly for the next general election. That election could be a near-wipeout and worse than 1997, with the Conservatives not even being the main opposition party.”

Senior Conservatives attempted to put a brave face on the figures on Wednesday night, pointing out that if the survey questions are about an election next year, voters are less certain about Labour.

Sir Iain Duncan Smith, the former Tory leader and Cabinet minister, said: “It is still quite a soft lead for Labour. It is not over yet by a long way. The Government can influence the vote by sorting out the small boats issue, dealing with the NHS crisis and cutting taxes to get growth going.”