More than half of voters expect Liz Truss to be poor or terrible PM, poll finds

More than half (52 per cent) of British voters think Liz Truss will be a poor or terrible prime minister, with little more than one in 10 (12 per cent) expecting her to be good or great, according to a new poll.

Andrew Woodcock 

And a clear majority believe the Tory leadership frontrunner will be worse than every other prime minister since Margaret Thatcher, with the exception of Boris Johnson.

The findings, in a YouGov poll, indicate that Ms Truss can expect little or no “honeymoon period” if she is confirmed as Mr Johnson’s successor as expected on Monday.

And she may struggle to drum up the enthusiasm of her own party’s supporters, with Conservative voters regarding her as a downgrade from Johnson, with 43 per cent saying she will be worse and just 20 per cent better than the outgoing PM.

If she wins, she will face the unique position for an incoming prime minister of having neither a mandate from a general election nor the support of a majority of her MPs in a leadership vote, having relied for her victory on the ballot of about 160,000 grassroots Tory members.

Just 2 per cent of those questioned said they expected Ms Truss to be a “great” prime minister, against 10 per cent who said she would be “good”, 20 per cent “average”, 17 per cent “poor” and 35 per cent “terrible”.

Her ratings were comparable with those of Mr Johnson, who is being forced out of office after a revolt by his own MPs: 5 per cent of voters thought he had been a “great” occupant of 10 Downing Street, 17 per cent “good”, 19 per cent “average”, 16 per cent “poor” and 39 per cent “terrible”.

In a head-to-head, voters were evenly split over whether they preferred Truss to Johnson, with each favoured by 24 per cent and 37 per cent saying they were about the same.

But Ms Truss rated poorly compared to any other PM of the past 40 years.

Forty-five per cent expected her to be worse than Mrs Thatcher, against 9 per cent who said she would be better. Compared with John Major, Truss was seen as worse by 36-14 per cent, and she trailed Tony Blair by 42-20, Gordon Brown by 38-21, David Cameron by 38-15 and Theresa May by 34-19.

Meanwhile, her proposals for tax cuts in response to the energy crisis were regarded less favourably by voters than Keir Starmer’s plan for a price freeze and Rishi Sunak’s promise of direct payments and a VAT holiday.

Presented with the plans without the politicians advocating them being identified, just 47 per cent said Truss’s scheme was a good idea, against 69 per cent for the Labour leader and 62 per cent for the former chancellor.

Just 13 per cent said they had faith in Ms Truss to deal with the cost of living crisis, well behind the 31 per cent who trusted Starmer and 21 per cent Sunak on the issue.

The cost of living was the top issue that voters felt the new PM should be focusing on, with three-quarters (74 per cent) naming it in their top three, followed by the economy (47 per cent) and climate change (28 per cent).

And 77 per cent said the government was not doing enough to support people faced with rocketing bills for essentials such as heating, food and fuel.

On a raft of issues ranging from the Ukraine war to Brexit, the NHS and managing the economy, large majorities said they did not trust Ms Truss to make the right decisions for the country. Even on her best subject of defence, those distrusting her outnumber those with faith by a margin of 53 to 24 per cent.

YouGov’s findings were based on two surveys, of 1,708 adults in the UK on 24-25 August and of another 1,651 on 29-30 August.