The Times have a YouGov poll tomorrow asking who people want to see as the next Conservative leader. Now, this is a question that I had got a bit bored of asking over the years: almost always Boris Johnson wins easily – he is the most recognisable of the Tory leadership contenders, obviously the most charismatic, and seems to have swung the trick of getting judged by the standards of a celebrity rather than the standards of a politician. However, in today’s poll he is pipped by Theresa May – 19% of the public think she would be the best candidate for the next leader of the Tories, 18% think Boris Johnson. To put this in context a similar question a week and a half ago had Johnson six points ahead of May, a fortnight ago Johnson was twelve points ahead of May.

This is, I hasten to add, polling of the general public, not of the people who decide. It is the votes of Conservative MPs and the party members that actually count, and they may very well have completely different views. However – part of Boris’s appeal to the Conservative party is his supposed ability to reach out to voters, his charisma and his public popularity are one of his primary selling points. If he isn’t the choice of the wider public… well.

Anyway, the really interesting thing will be if the increase in support for Theresa May among the general public is echoed among the Conservative electorate. For that, however, we will have to wait for some polling of Conservative party members…


1,010 Responses to “YouGov show May and Johnson neck-and-neck as public choice for next Tory leader”

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  1. First!

  2. I feel this is really a slump in support for Boris, rather than a surge for May (what’s she done recently?) and May is just the beneficiary as the obvious “not Boris” candidate.

    I can see why people might be less enthused by Johnson’s recent behaviour – he has gone very quiet as the enormity of the task ahead becomes apparent. Certainly he’s not been the bombastic figure that (some) British people love.

  3. I see the Speccy says Jeremy Hunt is ‘highly likely’ to launch leadership bid.
    Am I alone in coming over all McEnroe “you can not be serious”?
    Seems to me to have all the flaws of Boris – duplicity, incompetence, etc – without any of the merits (charisma, GSOH)

  4. I think May will win it – and Boris will end up with scrambled egg on his face. May will be far and away the best negotiator, and also the only one who can stand up to Farage and his loonies.

  5. The way she looks she may not last a whole parliament, so Boris could ahve another crack.

  6. Pete B

    So could Osborne. :-)

  7. Can I vote for Harold Macmillan, please?

  8. I have said before that the Tories should go for May. I am not convinced they have the sense to do so though.

  9. I think it would be best – after a respectful period – not to invoke 50, with the benefit of hindsight, as it will damage the economy to lose access to the single market.

    It might involve Johnson eating humble pie and admitting that it is impossible to have both access to the single market and controls on migration.

  10. Hawthorn

    “I have said before that the Tories should go for May. I am not convinced they have the sense to do so though.”

    I have heard they they may go for October, not May.

  11. Prof Howard

    Why is that “with hindsight”?

    It was made clear in advance, but the Brexiters were convinced that the guy down the pub knew better than the experts.

  12. Old Nat

    Some of us had foresight, but Brexiters have only got good vision with the benefit of hindsight.

  13. Given that the priority now is to get the best possible deal from the EU, I agree it would be better to have May as PM, Boris is simply tóxic for EU leaders and would negotiations more difficult.

  14. The whole Brexit negotiations with the EU is a massive task and will effectively require a full-time Minister in charge of a large Dept.

    Negotiations would be between a dedicated team and the EU, so I doubt the new PM would be directly involved. Holyrood, Stormont and Cardiff Bay will expect to have reps on the negotiation team as well.

  15. @PROFHOWARD

    Look guys I sympathise with the denial phase believe me I do, after all it’s been almost 2 years of listening to people say the indyref was rigged or we can have another one and the result will be different BUT it is over UK ( or parts of it ) will leave the EU.

    1. Uncertainty is the worst thing for investment decisions, if we string it out then much worse for economy. Once a50 is invoked then swiftly we move to the trade deal and certainty. If we were to change our mind, it would paradoxically lead to far more uncertainty with the markets never trusting us to stay in. At least if we are out the terms will be known.

    The reason we did not trigger a50 immediately is because there inegotiating team needs to be set up – this needs to be done before we trigger a50 because you can’t have negotiations without a team. And I mean lawyers, diplomats etc not just politicians, & strategy has to be decided.

    2. Europe has been an issue for the Tories since the 80s, there are an incredible number of Tories across HoC, Lords, councils, members are delighted and fully behind Brexit. The Tories as evidenced by Cameron yesterday will feel finally the issue is settled and unite behind Brexit.

  16. @COUPER

    Agree with you entirely. For the Tories, they’ll quickly unite behind the new Leader. Gove and Osborne appear to be the Kingmakers.

    Interested that they can bypass fixed term Parliament Act by voting a no confidence motion and waiting 14 days for an election. Labour are like lambs for the slaughter in their current state.

  17. Theresa May appears little better than Cameron, with progressive left of centre views. She is certainly not the person to negotiate Britains exit from Europe.
    Her nickname Theresa the Appeaser is well earned !

  18. MAXIM PARR-REID

    @” she has the charisma of a bank clerk.”

    I think we’ve had enough of charisma for a while.

    Bank Clerks get things done-remember Attlee?

  19. Labour turmoil seems to be the news today again – a bit tired of it now. MPs should just put up a candidate against him and let them fight it out. If Corbyn wins again, we might be seeing SDP round 2.

    On the other side of the coin, the Tories are doing a quick leadership contest. I wonder, how snappy could a snap election possibly be called? Obviously FTPA gives a 2/3 threshold of MPs to trigger one. The vote of no confidence seems more risky. We could have the farce of Tories voting no confidence in the government, but Labour and SNP voting for the government to try and block an election.

  20. I have to say that I am wondering whether internal party democracy is not to the detriment of the democracy that the ~99% of people who are not party members have to rely upon.

    “Ah, Gordon Brown” you say. Well, he is beginning to look a lot more effective now compared to the disastrous Cameron isn’t he?

  21. @Steve

    That’s exactly what I see happening, Tories voting down their own Government under a whip.

    Labour and SNP won’t want an election.

  22. Remind me re:FTPA is it 2/3 majority or 2/3 of parliament?

  23. Just heard Hunt suggest that article 50 should not be invoked until 2020 after including the recommended path to exit in the manifesto or possibly to include different options in a new referendum. And it is not the headline!!!!

  24. @ COUPER2802

    “Remind me re:FTPA is it 2/3 majority or 2/3 of parliament?”

    Not sure – either way the Tories will go for “no confidence” motion.

    October 20th for a general election?

  25. It’s hard to see how the UK can go into negotiations with Brussels with a PM that is not clearly pro-exit, and I say that as a Remainer. How else can Leave campaigners be confident that the negotiations have been held in a genuine and honest way?

    This is important because there is more chance of me becoming pope than of the UK getting any concessions beyond a Norway style arrangement, which is going to totally contradict the key commitments made to Leave voters.

    If this message is delivered by a PM that was previously anti-exit the cries of ‘foul!’ are going to be deafening.

  26. @Jonesinbangor

    But if 2/3rds parliament all the opposition have to do is abstain (easy)
    If 2/3rds man opposition have to vote against no confidence (hard)

  27. @ COUPER2802

    But if 2/3rds parliament all the opposition have to do is abstain (easy)
    If 2/3rds man opposition have to vote against no confidence (hard)”

    No, that’ not what I’m saying.

    A no confidence motion means the Government resigns (simple majority). The “opposition” then have 14 days to form a new Government, which they can’t as they don’t have a majority.

    If no new Government in 14 days, then General Election.

  28. Also, bookies odds on a 2016 election are evens!

  29. At last a new thread. I can crawl out from under the blankets again.

    Can I just make a personal appeal for everyone to redouble their efforts to remain friendly and non-partisan. I know I can be pretty poor myself on this score from time to time, but in the last week we’ve really plumbed unprecedented depths of unpleasantness and pointlessness, to the point that many of the “usual suspects” have been more or less forced off. I resolve to try very, very hard to keep what I say relevant to polling and minimise the rhetoric.

    As it happens, we are probably about to receive a deluge of psephology to delight over. The pollsters, despite the brickbats, did a reasonable job of tracking referendum VI and I don’t think polling has lost its value.

    I will be keen to see further polling on the Tory leadership contenders, both with the public and with Tory members. Similarly I expect there to be at least some polling on whether the Labour membership have wavered at all in their support for Corbyn.

    There will be GE VI polling, which will be extremely interesting. The one poll to date seems to show the Tories taking a bit hit, presumably due to the divisiveness of the initial reaction to Brexit. Will that continue to be the case, now that the Tories have begun to emerge from hiding and talk to the public about the options? Will it get even worse as economic news leads to a degree of buyer’s remorse? If the Tories can get a decent leader into place quickly and painlessly will that give them a “cling to mother” edge? Or will the contest be so acrimonious that it drives the Tories down. If so, is there any chance the LibDems could benefit?

    And then we’ve got polling on indyref2, and presumably on a NI border poll, which will make interesting reading. Initial results confirm a move to indy support, which is not remotely surprising. But apart from ScotPulse it’s not that large a movement. A bit smaller than I expected really. Is that the zenith of a post-Brexit emotional outpouring, or just the beginning of a slide in support for the Union as the potential effects of Brexit begin to emerge?

    There’s plenty to talk about, polls wise, so there’s really no need to play “Ya boo sucks”, slag each other off and interminably post quotes and links from people and newspapers who happen to agree with our opinions.

    I suspect AW pretty much abandoned the last thread as a write-off in the end, as there are better uses of time than even reading what was effectively an argument in a pub between angry red-faced belligerents. I hope this thread is sufficiently civilized that AW feels able to interact with it, and to moderate anyone who strays too far over the line. My Facebook feed is full of hate, so it would nice if this place could be a refuge from that.

  30. @ MAXIM PARR-REID

    “I don’t see why there needs to be a GE this year. The Tories shouldn’t do it.”

    I suspect what will be at the forefront of the new PM’s thoughts will be Gordon Brown and 2007. How things would have been different now had he not “bottled” it!?

    Anyway, an election in 2016 then gives until 2021 to get the trauma of Brexit out of the way, and a decent period of convalescence for the British economy!

  31. Neil A

    “Similarly I expect there to be at least some polling on whether the Labour membership have wavered at all in their support for Corbyn.”

    I certainly hope so – I have some anecdotal data on this but obviously that’s essentially worthless.

  32. MAXIM PARR-REID
    “Fair enough. Would the Tories win a GE? What if there’s a hung parliament?”

    Firstly, I’m no Tory (!!)…..

    But yes, I think they would – they’ll go in on a mandate of implementing Brexit “re-establish” independence and other jingoistic flag waving.

    They’ll suck up a load of votes from UKIP voters.

    North of the border it’ll be vote for us and we’ll save the UK which will be divisive but will deliver seats in Scotland I suspect.

  33. 19% + 18% = 37%
    Where did the other 63% go?

  34. I am more and more convinced that real answer to our problem lies with EU. They want a market of 500 million which is fine and they want something approximating to a superstate with a common currency which is fine for a very small group of them. What they need is a framework that accommodates both. We need that too if we are to avoid some of the awful consequences of Brexit.

    So what I would like to see is some polling in the EU that would cast light on the kind arrangements that might suit them. That might be helpful to all concerned.

  35. BFR

    @”How else can Leave campaigners be confident that the negotiations have been held in a genuine and honest way?”

    They can’t-but as DC said in the House yesterday-the Campaign is over.

    The Government-lead by whichever PM has recived a strong advisory opinion from the Electorate to Leave the EU.

    This can only be achieved by triggering A50-a process which must be debated & voted on in Parliament.

    This is about practicalities now-what is & what is not possible-and the will of Parliament-not The Campaign-that is dead.

  36. I would like, in Hunt’s plan, the option of continuing with full EU membership, given that any new deal may be a lot worse than that.

  37. Charles

    What UK Thinks have some European polling here.

    Some of it is quite recent (May 2016). I haven’t looked very closely at it, you might have to play around with search terms to find what you want. Would be interested in what you come up with…

  38. The only trouble with a plan to review/negotiate/decide again BEFORE formal A50 action , is that Merkel has said there can’t be negotiations UNTIL A50 is triggered.

    There were always two parties in this negotiation-and they were never going to make it easy. Merkel is the best we will have. This context makes Boris’s off the cuff stuff look increasingly disconnected with the real world.

  39. PROFHOWARD

    I think it would be best – after a respectful period – not to invoke 50, with the benefit of hindsight, as it will damage the economy to lose access to the single market.

    I completely disagree with your first point, we had a clear result and it would be undemocratic not to respond. The PM for all his faults was quite clear about that in yesterdays statement.

    On “hindsight” I agree with OLDNAT, to Brexiter’s like me it was obvious that there would be market disruption for a time and probably a short term hit on the UK economy. I said as much clearly before the referendum. However IMO the economy in the longer term was one of the main drivers for my vote to leave as I believe we will be very much better off economically.

    I thought M King was very sound yesterday although he thinks it will make little difference long term and i think it will be very beneficial

    As I said yesterday markets go up and down. In early trading the market is up as is the £.

  40. BIGFATRON
    “It’s hard to see how the UK can go into negotiations with Brussels with a PM that is not clearly pro-exit,”

    I agree, I like May but she was pro-remain although she did not appear to campaign much if at all.

    Hunts idea is dreadful and against the result of the referendum.

  41. Morning from the People’s Republic of London (PRL).

    As most are now expecting an election by the end of the year, I think this will swing it in favour of May. Boris’s appeal was always more to the urban areas – who he has just massively antagonised. May will be seen as the candidate who will unite the party and a safer pair of hands.

    Either way which ever one they pick will win the election as things currently stand – May with a landslide Boris with smaller majority (but about 20 seats more than current).

  42. My preferred candidate for Tory leader, should he stand, would be Liam Fox. For years I felt that he lacked confidence, seemingly nervous and easily out-manoeuvred by the likes of John Humphries, lately he seems to have grown in stature and hardened up, and of course he has good Brexit credentials. He has a bit of form in the tabloid story book, but don’t they all……! ;-)

  43. I just don’t see how a party that has wreaked economic havoc is supposed to win a landslide.

    It is also definite that in one way or another there will be a sensible Labour-style party to vote for.

  44. @COLIN
    Juncker has just reiterated that position: No negotiations before Article 50 is triggered. Doesn’t want secret negotiations behind the EU’s back.

    @TOH
    The markets will fluctuate as you have frequently stated. It’s possible that with Boris and now Hunt outlining proposals very similar to EEA status, that the change in economic circumstances between the UK and EU will change little.

    Not sure if that’s what Leave voters were hoping for, but unless the new Conservative leader declares a radically different approach EEA membership (plus or minus some bits) may well calm markets.

  45. MAXIM PARR-REID
    I don’t see why there needs to be a GE this year. The Tories shouldn’t do it.
    Focus on the negotiations, rather than electioneering.

    I agree with you on that. Honour is perhaps something that most is politicians no longer “do”, but don’t the other EU members deserve a clear statement of the UK government’s negotiating position or the A50 notification reasonably soon?

    It’s one thing to say that they need little time to select their new negotiator but to wait until after the party conferences before calling another UK GE is another slap in their faces.

    How much will that improve the UK negotiating position?
    Not a lot, to put it mildly, I suspect.

    As I write this, Hunt has just been on BBC news suggesting that the A50 notification should be delayed until after the 2020 election!

  46. @Coupar2802 – “The Tories as evidenced by Cameron yesterday will feel finally the issue is settled and unite behind Brexit.”

    I think there is an air of otherwordliness about the debate now, and I would serously suggest to everyone that we all accept the simple fact that there are no certainties about anything as yet.

    The idea that Tories are now united behind Brexit is somewhat blown apart by one of their senior elder statemen in the Lords suggesting parliament will try to block this, and even more significantly, a senior cabinet minister asking for a second vote after the deal is agreed.

    Much will depend on circumstance, with a poor short term outcome for the economy likely to increase pressure for a second vote of some kind, especially if polls show falling support for Brexit.

    Equally, several people have decided that there will be informal talks before A50 is triggered that will reveal the shape of a deal. I’m sure there are all manner of conversations going on across Europe right now, but I doubt very much the EU as a bloc will throw away their single greatest negotiating advantage by allowing the UK to get decisions made under their own timeframe and without the ticking clock of A50.

    My personal view is that Brexit is currently far from settled, and the fatc that the majority was tiny, in percentage terms in a binary choice option, and there is no way whatsoever for anyone to state anything with certainty – even the people at the heart of this don’t know where it’s going, so how would UKPR posters know any better?

  47. @Hawthorn

    A Labour split, which you seem to hint as a possible scenario, seems very likely to hand the Conservatives the next election, whenever it is in the next 4 years. I can’t see the two parties attracting enough new voters to counteract the effect of splitting the vote in different constituencies.

  48. BTW – the Rural Payments Agency has this morning written to all the Leader Local Action Groups (the mechanism through which EU Leader regional funding money is distributed) to tell them not to confirm any future funding awards until further notice.

    I am also aware of a case of separate direct EU funding to an UK organsition being withdrawn without notice yesterday.

    The immediate impacts of Brexit uncertainty are going to harsh and much more prolonged that people thought. I sense that this could be politically significant, as we will see significant disruption that may affect voter sentiment.

  49. I also think that it’s going to be very difficult for those many Tory MPs and ministers who warned us of economic armageddon, grave security risks and the collapse of the NHS if leave won to sit on their hands and say that they now back Brexit and everything is going to be fine, if circumstances start to spiral out of control.

    Politicians currently will hesitate to talk about a second vote, as it smacks of ignoring the will of the electorate, although even here, Hunt has very sensibly gone against this maxim.

    If public support for Brexit starts to become undermined by either the notion that immigration won’t change or that the economy is being hit, then expect a tidal wave of MPs calling for a confirming vote to be held.

    If and when we get to that point, then I would expect the EU to engage in what is does best – making fudge. This is the point at which they need to make the right noises, and in a years time we might be in a place that looks completely different to what we see now.

    And then again, we might be on our way out, with the UK breaking up. I really don’t know, and neither does anyone else.

  50. Alec

    “My personal view is that Brexit is currently far from settled, and the fatc that the majority was tiny, in percentage terms in a binary choice option, and there is no way whatsoever for anyone to state anything with certainty – even the people at the heart of this don’t know where it’s going, so how would UKPR posters know any better?”

    I agree with what you say here although I would have simply said I don’t trust politicians. Forget the tiny majority bit, the result was quite clear and if we do not leave then parliament will be defying the will of the people.

    Nothing new in that they do it all the time, but this time it really is fundamental. My mind goes back to the 1640’s when the establishment (the King and his advisors) defied the will of the people.

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