Tory woe as poll shows NO bounce for Rishi Sunak after NI Brexit deal
7th March 2023

Tory woe as poll shows NO bounce for Rishi Sunak after Northern Ireland Brexit deal – but DUP ‘inches towards accepting the pact’ by cutting out hardliners from panel assessing new terms

  • Poll shows Tories still not managing to make inroads into Labour’s massive lead 

Tories faced more grim poll news today despite signs that the DUP could be inching towards accepting Rishi Sunak’s Brexit deal.  

The latest Redfield & Wilton Strategies research put the Labour lead at 26 points – within the margin of error of the 27 points recorded last week.

Although there are hints of improvement in Mr Sunak’s personal ratings, the figures will be disappointing for Downing Street. 

The latest agreement with the EU received broad support from Conservatives and relatively positive coverage – although some big figures such as Boris Johnson have voiced reservations.

The survey results emerged as DUP leader Jeffrey Donaldson established a consultation panel to study the terms of the package.

The latest Redfield & Wilton Strategies research put the Labour lead at 26 points – within the margin of error of the 27 points recorded last week


DUP leader Jeffrey Donaldson (right) has established a consultation panel to study the terms of the Brexit package struck by Rishi Sunak (left)

Former DUP leaders and first ministers Peter Robinson and Baroness Arlene Foster are among those on the eight-member group. 

But crucially he seems to have shut hardliners such as chief whip Sammy Wilson and MP Ian Paisley out of the process.

Sir Jeffrey has made clear that the DUP will take its time to consider the Windsor Framework before deciding whether to back it and revive powersharing at Stormont.

He said last night: ‘The group will comprise both members of our party as well as independent thinkers who have standing within the broader community.

‘They will want to engage with a broad section of the unionist and loyalist community, the business sector, civic society and others who want to see Northern Ireland prosper within the Union.’

Mr Sunak and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen unveiled the framework last week after months of intensive negotiations.

The government says the overhaul of the Northern Ireland protocol will eradicate any hint of a border in the Irish Sea .

It is also billed as bringing the province back under UK VAT rules, while a so-called ‘Stormont brake’ opens the prospect of vetoing f new EU laws.

Mr Sunak has also committed to amending the 1998 Northern Ireland Act to provide further reassurance to unionists about the region’s constitutional status within the UK.

Some prominent DUP figures, including Lord Dodds, Mr Wilson and Ms Paisley, have already suggested that the deal potentially does not go far enough to address their concerns over trade and sovereignty.

The Redfield poll put Labour on 50 per cent, down one on last week, while the Tories were unchanged on 24 per cent.

The Lib Dems were on 9 per cent and Reform UK 7 per cent.

Mr Sunak’s personal approval rating stood at minus nine. But that was an eight-point improvement from the previous level.

The government’s competence rating also crept up. 

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