RISHI Sunak has been unable to reverse the damage to the Tories caused by Boris Johnson and Liz Truss and is now facing a rising threat from Brexit party Reform UK, according to Britain’s top polling expert.

Professor Sir John Curtice (below) said efforts to relaunch and reset the Tories after Partygate and the disastrous mini-budget from Sunak’s predecessors had come to “nought” and any hope the current Prime Minister would restore the party’s fortunes have not come to fruition.

The National: Professor John Curtice -JS. Photo by Jamie Simpson

Writing in the i, the professor of politics at Strathclyde University said Reform UK – which was founded as the Brexit Party by Nigel Farage – could act as a “wider vehicle of protest” for dissatisfied Tory voters who don’t want to back Labour.

READ MORE: John Curtice gives verdict on Scottish General Election polls

And he also said Labour’s support relies heavily on “disenchantment” with the Tories rather than “much enthusiasm” for what Keir Starmer’s party is offering.

The Conservatives current average standing in the polls – at 26% - is a point down on where it was at the end of last year and almost as low as in the aftermath of Truss’s disastrous premiership, Curtice said.

He wrote: “The party did have some success in the first half of the year in slowly increasing its support and narrowing Labour’s lead.

“But that process went into reverse in June in the wake of the party’s failure to endorse the report of the privileges committee on the veracity of Boris Johnson’s statements to the House about Partygate.

“Meanwhile the various attempts in the autumn at “relaunches” and “resets” have come to nought, and indeed were accompanied by some decline in the party’s standing in the wake of the party conference season.”

Curtice said there has been an increased challenge from Reform UK since the autumn, which now has its highest rating in the polls at nine per cent – attracting support from nearly one in five of those who voted Leave in 2016.

“Reform may be acting as a wider vehicle of protest for 2019 Tory voters who feel that Labour are ideologically too far from them,” he wrote.

“That implies that Labour could be facing competition from Reform for the support of discontented Conservatives.

READ MORE: Andrew Bridgen: Reclaim Party left with no MPs as former Tory quits

“In any event, the Conservatives themselves are now fighting on two fronts, not just one.

“What certainly has happened is that any hopes that Tory MPs might have had that Sunak’s relative popularity would help restore their party’s fortunes have not come to fruition.

“The PM’s personal popularity has fallen markedly this year.”

Meanwhile Curtice said a boost to Starmer’s personal rating he enjoyed as a result of Truss’s premiership had finally disappeared by the spring and he is now “consistently regarded less favourably than his party”.

“All in all, Labour’s support seems heavily reliant on disenchantment with the Conservatives rather than much enthusiasm for what the party is offering," he added.