As the average mortgage rate for a five-year fixed deal rises to 6 per cent, Rishi Sunak can find little relief in his personal approval ratings. ConservativeHome has published its monthly cabinet league table in which the Prime Minister’s support among Tory members has hit its lowest level since he entered 10 Downing Street. Sunak at least has plenty of company in the red – he is one of a record nine cabinet ministers to find themselves with sub-zero approval ratings. These ministers include his deputy Oliver Dowden, Chancellor Jeremy Hunt, Levelling Up secretary Michael Gove and Therese Coffey.
Sunak is now on -2.7, compared to a positive rating of 21.6 in June, but is still doing better than some of his predecessors. Boris Johnson previously hit -33.8 as prime minister and Theresa May went lower still. Yet the ratings will just add to a sense in government and across the party that things are not going the Prime Minister’s way at present. National polling suggests the Tories are losing ground and there is a feeling that recovery has stalled since the local elections and that the party’s prospects are getting worse.
The problem for Sunak is that it is currently hard to see what will change in his favour. The economy remains in a tricky state and mortgage misery will likely get worse before it gets better. Ministers had hoped a flight to Rwanda could improve their fortunes – but the Court of Appeal verdict last week that the scheme is unlawful means that a flight this year is unlikely. The case will now be heard in the Supreme Court, likely in October.
There are still some levers Sunak can pull. There is hope in government, too, that inflation will fall steeply in the second half of the year.