Rishi Sunak
© AFP / Toby MelvilleRishi Sunak speaks during a press conference at Downing Street in London, England, April 22, 2024
The UK's ruling Conservative Party is heading for "electoral extinction," according to multiple polls published in British media over the weekend. Amid Sunak's record unpopularity, two polls showed Nigel Farage's Reform UK party surging to third place.

According to an Opinium poll published in The Observer on Saturday, 40% of likely voters said they would choose the Labour Party when they cast their votes on July 4. Another 23% said they would vote Conservative, while 14% said they would back Reform UK candidates, a better result for the anti-immigration party than for the Greens (7%) and Liberal Democrats (12%).

A Telegraph poll published the same day showed even more dismal results for Sunak's party, with 46% of likely voters choosing Labour, 21% Conservative, and 13% opting for Reform UK.

It marks the poorest showing for the Conservatives in a Telegraph poll in five years, while Labour's 25-point lead is the party's largest since October 2022, when Conservative Prime Minister Liz Truss stepped down after unveiling a widely-reviled mini-budget. Reform's share in both polls is its largest since the party's creation in 2021.

A more detailed poll carried out by Survation for the Times showed Labour winning 456 out of 650 parliamentary seats, and the Conservatives hanging on to only 72. By contrast, the Conservatives won 365 seats in 2019, a majority of 80 and at the time their best result since 1987.

Winning just 72 seats would be the party's worst result in its 200-year history. The Conservatives' previous low point came in 1906, when under the leadership of Arthur Balfour it won 156 seats to the Liberal party's 397.

Sunak called the election last month, before the publication of economic data showing that inflation was unlikely to fall to his government's target. Like Truss and Boris Johnson before him, Sunak has presided over an historic decline in British living standards and a rise in energy costs and inflation, both of which soared after the UK cut itself off from Russian fossil fuels in 2022.

With three weeks to go until the election, some Conservatives have accused Reform UK and its leader, Nigel Farage, of splitting the right-wing vote. "The only wasted vote is a Conservative vote," Farage shot back last week, after a separate poll showed Reform as the country's second-largest party. "We're heading north and the Tories are heading south," he continued, declaring that "the people's revolt is just gathering momentum."