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EDITIONS
 Tuesday, 23 April, 2002, 12:54 GMT 13:54 UK
Brown 'reaches popularity high'
Chancellor Gordon Brown and Prime Minister Tony Blair at a London hospital on Thursday
There is renewed speculation about Blair-Brown rivalry
The Budget has taken Chancellor Gordon Brown's popularity to a new high, suggests the latest opinion poll.

More people are satisfied with the way Mr Brown is doing his job than with any chancellor since Denis Healey in the 1970s, according to a new MORI poll.

Guardian/ICM poll
Labour: 45%
Conservative: 29%
Lib Dem: 18%
Amid new speculation over the rivalry between Mr Brown and Tony Blair, the chancellor's approval rating outstrips that recorded for the prime minister last month.

The Conservatives and Liberal Democrats accuse ministers of breaking promises through the tax rise, and the poll suggests most voters believe the Budget marks a change in direction.

Blair comparisons

Of those questioned by MORI for the Financial Times, 57% said they were satisfied with Mr Brown's performance as chancellor - his highest rating.

The 28% figure for those dissatisfied is, however, up eight points from July 1997, just after Labour came to power.

That brings Mr Brown's net approval rating to 29%, a level he has not reached since March 1998.

The poll contrasts with the attitude towards Mr Blair, who in a MORI poll last month slumped to a net approval rating of minus 8%.

Some figures on Labour's left have again begun to champion the idea of a Brown premiership.

Charles Kennedy and Iain Duncan Smith
Kennedy and Duncan Smith accuse Labour of breaking promises
Mr Blair on Sunday denied reports that the chancellor had accused him of being "gung-ho" about possible action against Iraq - something currently opposed by many Labour backbenchers.

The chancellor is said to think he had struck a deal so Mr Blair would stand aside to let him into Downing Street.

That prospect currently looks remote, with Mr Blair telling BBC One's Breakfast with Frost that his zeal for the job remained undimmed.

Mr Blair said: "The job's not yet done. We've got big challenges ahead in the next few years."

A separate poll, conducted by ICM for the Guardian newspaper, suggests Labour's lead over the Conservatives has widened in the wake of the Budget.

The poll shows Labour up two points from last month to 45% while the Tories have fallen five points to 29%.

The Liberal Democrats are up one point in the survey to 18%.

Business hostility

With the opinion polls indicating support for the Budget tax rises, the Conservatives on Sunday pointed to other survey findings suggesting the public still did not think the tax rises would bring major NHS improvements.

The MORI poll suggests 59% of people think the Budget marked a change in direction for Labour, against 27% who see it in line with the party's policies since 1997.

Business leaders have also attacked the tax changes, which will not hit people's pockets until April next year.

Liberal Democrat leader Charles Kennedy supports the tax rises but has said Labour should have argued for them during last year's election campaign.

Mr Blair and Mr Brown had contributed to public cynicism about politicians by failing to make that case, argued Mr Kennedy.

But Labour has insisted it has not broken its promise not to raise income tax.

MORI interviewed 957 adults by telephone between 19 and 21 April.

ICM surveyed 1,000 adults by telephone between 20 and 21 April.

 VOTE RESULTS
The Budget: Has the chancellor got it right?

Yes
 43.20% 

No
 56.80% 

25637 Votes Cast

Results are indicative and may not reflect public opinion


Key stories

Analysis

QUIZ

BUDGET DIARIES

AUDIO VIDEO

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See also:

22 Apr 02 | Politics
18 Apr 02 | Health
18 Apr 02 | Politics
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