Ben Wallace tipped as future Tory leader amid slump in Rishi Sunak's popularity, John Curtice tells GB News

John Curtice praised the Defence Secretary's assured performance throughout the Ukraine-Russia crisis

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Ben Wallace is the new favourite to be the next Prime Minister as Rishi Sunak’s popularity plummets following his Spring Statement announcement.

While the Chancellor faces fury over his response to the cost-of-living crisis and awaits the impending partygate report, the Defence Secretary is being met with praise for his assured performance throughout the Ukraine crisis.

As Mr Sunak’s future hangs in the balance, political pundits are now predicting Mr Wallace will succeed Boris Johnson if and when a Tory leadership contest is triggered.

Professor John Curtice, an expert in electoral behaviour, told GB News: “There's no doubt that at least until a couple of weeks ago, any immediate leadership contest inside the Conservative Party will be a battle between Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss.”

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace
Defence Secretary Ben Wallace
Political Scientist Professor John Curtice
Political Scientist Professor John Curtice

“Two things have arguably changed. One is we've learned that Rishi Sunak is now also to some degree, at least, caught in the eye of the partygate row.

“If he were to be fined, along with the Prime Minister, and if that were to bring the Prime Minister down, it's not clear if Mr Sunak would be in a position to inherit."

Speaking before the Spring Statement, Prof Curtice continued: "The second thing that I think has changed, is that the person who's come up best so far out of the Ukraine crisis is Ben Wallace, the Defence Minister.”

He put forward that Mr Wallace’s astute response to the Ukraine crisis has proved he’s ripe for the premiership.

Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak
Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak

While many European countries said Russian leader Vladimir Putin had given no indication of a plan to invade Ukraine, the former Scots Guards officer warned Moscow could “launch an offensive at any time".

Prof Curtice added: “It is reportedly Ben Wallace that insisted we should be trying to arm Ukrainians sooner rather than later. And to that extent, at least, if he wants it, who knows.”

Brits seemingly agree, as a new poll revealed on Tuesday, placed Mr Wallace as the public’s top-performing minister in Britain’s response to The Kremlin's attack on Ukraine.

The Ipsos survey for The Evening Standard, gave him a net rating of +12 as he won the approval of 39 percent of adults in the UK. This put him far ahead of Foreign Secretary Liz Truss who landed on -13.

And according to Thursday’s damning front pages, possibly ahead of the previously popular Mr Sunak.

GB News’ Liam Halligan was one to slam the Chancellor for delivering tax cut promises he believes he won't be able to keep.

As part of his Spring Statement, the Chancellor vowed to cut the basic rate of income tax from 20p to 19p in 2024.

Liam, suspicious that the cut comes into effect during an election year, said: “With so much uncertainty, he [Rishi Sunak] cannot in my view credibly say that tax cut will happen."

Labour's Rachel Reeves also lashed out at Mr Sunak and said he is "making the cost-of-living crisis worse, not better".

The Shadow Chancellor said: “Inflation is at its highest level for 30 years and rising. Energy prices at record highs. People are worried sick.

“For all his words, it is clear that the Chancellor does not understand the scale of the challenge. He talks about providing security for working families, but his choices are making the cost-of-living crisis worse, not better."

Prof Curtice said in the face of the current economic backdrop, the Chancellor has a “very difficult hand”.

He said: “We have to see how much will depend on his ability to play it in the next few weeks as to whether or not he retains the confidence in the support of both the Conservative Party and also the wider public.”