BORIS Johnson is losing millions of loyal voters as the cost of living crisis hits Tory heartlands, a poll reveals.
Rocketing household bills are piling on the agony for supporters who feel betrayed.
Yesterday, they faced an even tighter squeeze on family budgets amid fears fruit and veg prices could rise by up to 30 per cent.
It has led to a 7.5 point swing towards Labour in key Tory areas, a Survation poll shows.
Many feel the Government is neglecting the shire counties as it heaps resources on former “Red Wall” Labour strongholds
Two-thirds of people in rural areas say No 10 is not doing enough to create prosperity in their communities.
And seven out of ten believe that opportunities for young people have stagnated or decreased in the past five years.
Alarmingly for Tories, most of the lost votes have switched to Labour, according to the survey in five of Britain’s most rural counties.
At the 2019 election, 46 per cent of people in the areas voted Tory, while 29 per cent voted Labour.
Now, only 38 per cent say that they intend to vote Conservative, just two points ahead of Labour.
Suppliers warned recent strikes by lorry drivers over fuel costs in Spain could have a knock-on effect for cost of fruit and veg here.
Importers say it may take ten days for supplies of produce such as tomatoes and lettuce to return to normal and costs for firms could rise by up to 30 per cent.
Last night, a top Tory warned the poll could soon be followed by disastrous results for the party in next month’s local elections.
Firms’ energy ‘cliff’
SOARING costs are putting one in ten businesses on an “energy cliff edge”, Labour warned last night.
Analysis shows 200,000 firms finished long-term energy deals at the end of March, placing jobs on the line.
A further 225,000 will be hit when deals end in June, stats show.
Shadow business secretary Jonathan Reynolds is calling for a cut in rates, paid for by increasing the Digital Services Tax on tech giants, and a one-off windfall levy on oil and gas producers’ profits.
He said: “Action is needed now to ensure firms remain viable.”
But government insiders pointed to the recent cut in fuel duty.
They also highlighted the 50 per cent business rates relief for eligible retail, hospitality and leisure properties.
A government spokesman insisted: “We will act wherever we can to mitigate rising costs.”
And it could lead to a renewed effort by MPs to force a leadership election — a threat eased by the war in Ukraine.
The poll was conducted in five of the UK’s most rural counties by population density — Cornwall, Cumbria, North Yorks, Norfolk and Gwynedd.
Almost half, 42 per cent, said there had been an economic decline in their communities in the past five years.
And 79 per cent believe a shortage of affordable housing is driving people out of the countryside.
Mark Tufnell, of the Country Land and Business Association, which commissioned the poll, said: “No party should take rural voters for granted.”
Julian Sturdy, Tory MP for York Outer, admitted: “People, rightly, want a good job and an affordable home.
“The Levelling Up White Paper was the perfect opportunity to uncover why they can be so hard to find in the countryside, but rural issues were largely absent.
“That’s been noticed and needs addressing urgently.”