Only 30 per cent of people living in the countryside think the Tories understand rural Britain, a new survey has found.
The research, carried out by the Countryside Alliance, also showed only 8.5 per cent of people believe rural life has improved over the last five years.
More than 3,000 people took part in the survey, which was set up to garner views on the Conservative leadership contest.
Participants said delivering a new agricultural policy should be a top priority for the new Prime Minister, followed by tackling crime, addressing the rural housing crisis and improving digital connectivity.
Countryside Alliance chief executive Tim Bonner said: “These results should be a wake-up call for the Conservative Party and the leadership candidates.
“The rural vote cannot be taken for granted and the next Prime Minister must set out a clear vision for rural Britain which aims to close the gaps with urban areas in opportunities, services and public spending.”
The results of the survey were published as the CLA wrote to the final two leadership candidates, Jeremy Hunt and Boris Johnson, to ask them to back five pledges for the rural economy.
Tim Breitmeyer, CLA president, said: “We cannot continue with a one-size-fits-all approach to policymaking.
“By backing these five pledges, the next PM is making a very public commitment to ensuring the particular needs of the countryside are both recognised and met.”