The Conservative Party still has a chance of winning the next general election, legendary pollster Sir John Curtice has claimed.
He said the Tories could still pull off a shock win next year and hinted immigration might not be as big a factor as many say.
But he stressed that getting the beleagured economy firing was critical and that if Rishi Sunak fails to deliver strong growth for Britain, his party has no chance.
He told Camilla Tominey on GB News: “Illegal immigration is perhaps not as much of a factor in voting intentions as the Conservatives anticipate.
"It's certainly true that Conservative voters and people who voted Conservative in 2019 are particularly concerned about the level of illegal immigration.
“However it's not clear that illegal immigration is the issue that is persuading people to no longer vote Conservative.
"If that's correct, stopping the boats therefore may not necessarily be the route to getting those people who defected from the Conservatives back again.
"In the end I think the honest truth is that the Conservatives will have to persuade people that they are restoring the fortunes of the economy, including the consequences of Brexit.
"They will need to persuade people that the Conservatives can restore a reputation for economic competence.”
Outlining his predictions for next week’s local elections he continued: “The first thing we have to bear in mind is the baseline against which seats gained and lost will be measured.
"And it is a very, very different world politically from the one we now occupy.
"We have to go back to May 2019, the era where Theresa May was still Prime Minister albeit struggling and failing to get her Brexit deal through the House of Commons. Back then the Conservatives were down at 26% in the opinion polls.
Sir John Curtice was speaking to Camilla Tominey
“Given, therefore, how poor the baseline is, we should not necessarily be anticipating very large scale Conservative losses, even if the party ends up still below the equivalent of 30%.
“That said, of course, Labour are now in a markedly stronger position in the opinion polls with about a 15 or 16 point lead at the moment, whereas they also were doing pretty badly in May 2019. It was a plague on both houses.
"The bad news for the Conservatives, however, is that polling suggests they might yet even dip below how they did in 2019.”
It came as Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer suggested the Tories could make gains in the polls on May 4, and said predictions that the party could lose more than 1,000 council seats across England were “astonishing”.
He claimed this prediction was an attempt to manage expectations about the outcome of the poll.
Sir Keir Starmer said the Tories should be making gains in the local elections on Thursday
He said the Tories had seen their second-worst set of results ever in 2019, when the councils facing elections last went to a vote, adding this would make it “quite hard” for Labour to do better in the same cycle.
The Labour leader said: “For the Conservative Party, the baseline is on the floor and they should be making gains and if they can’t make gains on that awful set of results then I think there are serious questions as to whether Rishi Sunak is going backwards in fact in terms of their electoral prospects.
“So it’s a difficult cycle because of that baseline but I think really the question will be why aren’t the Conservatives making significant gains.”
He added he was “humble” about the process and knows Labour has to “earn every vote, but we do want to make progress”.
Meanwhile, ahead of the Coronation, Mr Curtice said evidence is increasingly pointing towards the fact that younger people are becoming increasingly disconnected from the Royal Family.
He said: “Support for them is now at an all time low and frankly it declined during the Queen Elizabeth era and it's certainly true that amongst young people in particular, there isn't a great deal of support for the monarchy.
“Now the truth is, it's always been true that younger people have been less keen on the monarchy, but it's looked as though they've tended to support it as they've grown older.
"The problem now for the monarchy, is that the gap is much bigger and that the current generation of younger people are particularly less likely to be keen on the monarchy, then even younger people were 20 or 30 years ago.”