Today’s opinion polling for i contains plenty of encouraging news for Rishi Sunak. More on that in a second.
However, two of the most significant findings are stacked against him. A majority of voters feel that this week’s Budget will not help them – with just 15 per cent believing they will personally benefit. That’s not what any government wants to hear, during an acute cost of living crunch.
Crucially, Labour’s lead over the Tories remains 17 points (46 per cent vs 29 per cent), the sort of gap that would deliver a landslide in the next general election.
Now for Sunak’s good news. It is rare that every key measure in a Budget is popular with voters. Yet our poll shows mass support for the childcare plan, the fuel duty freeze, energy help and tackling prepayment meters. There’s strong backing also for tougher benefits sanctions, extra defence spending and the corporation tax hike.
So what’s the problem? For most voters, the Budget doesn’t do enough to protect them against economic headwinds. This is not a problem unique to Chancellor Jeremy Hunt.
His Labour shadow, Rachel Reeves, would also have limited room for manoeuvre, as the Treasury tries to tame inflation, worker shortages, poor productivity, public sector debt and feeble economic growth.
Where does this week in politics leave us, then? After the chaos of Truss and Johnson, Sunak and Hunt are succeeding in their early mission to project competence and calm.
However, when it comes to their Mount Everest – persuading Britain that the Conservatives should govern the country for another five years – they are still in the foothills.