According to a poll conducted for the Observer, Suella Braverman has seen a decline in popular support as a result of controversy over a speeding ticket and her management of immigration.
The most recent Opinium survey revealed that the home secretary’s personal approval rating had fallen to -36 among respondents as several Tories accused her of positioning herself as a potential leader. 50% indicated they disapproved of the job she is doing, compared to 14% who said they approve.
Since March, when 18% of respondents approved and 38% disapproved of her performance, there has been a noticeable fall in personal support. Voters expressed dissatisfaction over what they regarded to be her incapability to make decisions and carry out her ideas.
It is a setback for Rishi Sunak, whose five priorities include reducing immigration levels and keeping his promise to “stop the boats” from crossing the English Channel. Following the release of official data last week that showed overall immigration to the UK would reach a record 606,000 in 2022, there has been significant anxiety among Tories.
As he works to turn the government around following the instability that erupted during Liz Truss’ brief term in office, the prime minister has prioritized competence and stability. He has chosen to continue with his home secretary despite concerns that her request for a one-on-one speed awareness training may have violated the ministerial code.
When voters were asked if Sunak and Braverman were out of touch or accurately represented what people thought, Sunak and Braverman did poorly, according to the most recent Opinium statistics. On the other hand, Braverman fared much worse in the areas of competence, ability to make important decisions, and “likability”. Her net score for trustworthiness was -33 as opposed to Sunak’s -20, and for being trusted with important judgments, it was -28 as opposed to Sunak’s -11.
The announcement comes as the Home Office, in its most recent effort to curb the number undertaking the risky journey, announced the commencement of a worldwide campaign to discourage potential migrants from attempting to cross the Channel. From this week, advertisements in nations like Albania will try to directly inform migrants that if they attempt the crossing, they would be imprisoned and sent home or to a safe third country. The Home Office promised to draw attention to the trip’s potential risks as well.
Robert Jenrick, the immigration minister, will travel to Algeria, Tunisia, Italy, and France as the administration desperately tries to fulfill Sunak’s promise to essentially stop the route. Last night, Jenrick stated that he wants to “dispel myths about illegal travel to the UK, explain the realities, and combat the lies peddled by evil people-smugglers who profit from this vile trade”.
In total, 60% of voters said that net migration was too high at the moment, while only 19% believed it to be about right. Adam Drummond, head of political and social research at Opinium, questioned: “Does Suella Braverman’s unpopularity stem from the public’s disapproval of her staunch opinions or from the perception among her supporters that she is not acting on those opinions? Unfortunately, it’s a large sum from both columns for the government.
“Yes, the home secretary’s negative ratings are in part down to very negative views among people who are unlikely to ever vote Conservative anyway, but among those who did vote for the party in 2019, her scores are far more negative than those for Rishi Sunak. Whether that is enough of a base to win the leadership in the event of the party going into opposition, though, remains to be seen.”
It coincides with a new campaign by former Tory ministers to completely exclude international students from the official net migration estimates. They asserted that voters were unconcerned about people who temporarily relocated to Britain to study. According to a recent analysis, the UK’s economy will gain from international students to the tune of £42 billion in 2021–2022, up by a third in just three years.
Former immigration minister Jo Johnson stated that there is now a compelling case to count students separately after much discussion. “Students aren’t migrants in the sense that the public understands the term,” he remarked. They stay in the country for a far less time than other types of visa holders. Our international students are primarily master’s students taking nine to twelve month courses. At the conclusion of their studies, the vast majority of students depart and return home.
“They are huge assets to our university system for well established reasons – they cross-subsidise research, they make it possible for universities to put on courses that otherwise wouldn’t be offered at all, thereby increasing choice for domestic students. They are not in tension with domestic students.”
Nicky Morgan, a former education secretary, said: “As a former MP representing a university, I don’t think immigration concerns ever included students. If we took students out of the main number I think we’d have a much clearer idea of what is happening with our immigration system.”
To limit immigration, Labour has stated that it will set time limitations on the hiring of foreign workers in occupations where there is a scarcity of workers. The party believes the plan will encourage businesses to train more British personnel, according to Yvette Cooper, the shadow home secretary, who was speaking to the Sunday Telegraph.
Frontbencher for Labour claimed that the Tories were in charge of a “huge gap between rhetoric and reality” regarding immigration. The hiring of foreign employees at low salaries is “no substitute for a proper plan,” Sir Keir Starmer wrote in the Sun on Sunday, as part of Labour’s broader efforts to project a tougher position on immigration.
The Labour leader called the present system a “travesty” and said immigration must “come down,” adding that he will focus on apprenticeships as “a ticket to a better future.”