London / AFP
Britons’ satisfaction with Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne is waning as he prepares for his annual Budget amid warnings a slowdown in global growth could hurt the U.K. economy.
Forty percent of people surveyed by Ipsos Mori are happy with his stewardship of the economy, down 4 points percentage points from July. Forty-six percent are dissatisfied, giving the chancellor his first negative rating — minus 6 — since 2013. Prime Minister David Cameron’s satisfaction rating fell to minus 15.
Osborne, the bookmakers’ favorite to succeed Cameron as Conservative leader, still received the backing of the majority of his party. Seventy-five percent of respondents said they were happy with the way he was doing his job, the poll published on Thursday showed. The poll comes less than a month before the chancellor delivers his annual budget against a backdrop of weak oil prices and a sharp slowdown in China. Forty-four percent of respondents expect the U.K. economy to worsen over the next year.
The chancellor, who has staked his reputation on his handling of the economy, is set to miss his deficit-reduction target this year. He has continued to stress the need for austerity to achieve his aim of balancing the books by the end of the decade.
“The record levels of economic optimism generated before the election have long since dissipated,” Gideon Skinner, head of political research at Ipsos Mori, said in a statement. “But he is still ahead of Labour’s John McDonnell among nearly every group, other than young people and Labour supporters.”
When asked who would make the most capable chancellor, only 29 percent picked McDonnell, Osborne’s opposition counterpart, compared with 46 percent for Osborne. The chancellor’s lead over Labour is bigger than it was under its previous finance spokesman, Ed Balls.
Ipsos Mori interviewed 1,001 adults by telephone between Feb. 13 and Feb. 16.