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. ALEC
    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.

    Agreed, and right now Farage MEP is live in the EP on BBC News insulting everyone else. That will continue – probably more stridently – until negotiations proper are concluded. Surely the sooner they start the less damage to both the UK and EU economies will follow.

  2. The sun is now out in the PRL


    Its assuming Labour cant shift Corbyn. Labour could go as low as 100-110 seats, limited to its inner city core. If UKIP gets a strong basis on the basis off ‘we need to make sure that elite in London down sell you out in the negotiation’ this will split the Lab vote in some areas and let the Tories in. If Labour do manage do ditch Corbyn and offer a real alternative then voters may punish the Tories at the Polls, otherwise it will be seen by many as the lesser of two evils.

  3. first ‘basis’ should read ‘showing’; sorry

  4. It seems to me that all the back-tracking by the Leave campaign after June 23 has left a lot of their voters and supporters feeling betrayed….

    They’ve even wiped their broken promises from the Vote Leave website!

    This is all bound to come back and hit the likes of Boris Johnson, Nigel Farage, and Michael Gove in their faces. So many Leavers feel that they’ve been taken for a ride….

  5. Maxim

    Blimey, what are they putting in the Kool Aid at Conservative HQ?

  6. May would win a big majority, Boris I see trouble ahead for the Tories, he looks opportunistic, and has already alienated the entire young vote and the city of London. I think he will be a very bad choice as a unifying candidate. Depends how much the party push for a brexiter. There are a lot of trouble causes on the Tory back benchers. I am praying for May.

    As for Labour…

    They are like a naff student union party right now. Principles are one thing, but you have to have some compromise to be electable and get some of the middle class vote. Sorry but that’s just how it is.

  7. @Rich

    As for Labour…

    They are like a naff student union party right now. Principles are one thing, but you have to have some compromise to be electable and get some of the middle class vote. Sorry but that’s just how it is.

    Couldn’t have put it better myself. There are a lot of annoyed ‘Remain’ conservative leaning voters atm – but in no way will they ever vote for Corbyn.

    The sun is now out in the PRL

    Polskie Radio Londyn?

  9. Let’s just give thanks that during the financial crisis in 2008, Brown and Darling were at the helm. Imagine if this shower had dealt with it.

  10. Who would vote for a Corbynite party? How would they be funded?

    Without even the soft left they would be as relevant as TUSC.

    I still think he will get the boot though.


    You need to actually spend some time in London.

    Corbyn would no more beat Labour in London than George Galloway would beat Sadiq Khan.

  12. Alec

    Your 10.10 post about post referendum EU action.

    To be expected, and I suspect unlawful, since we remain in the EU for at least two years 3 months. It’s an example of exactly why we should leave the EU. The French used to talk of “Perfidious Albion”, well the cap fits elsewhere now.

  13. Colin – “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.”

    It’s a balance of power thing.

    Until A50 is triggered, the power lies with us. Once it is triggered, the power lies with the EU. Everything we negotiate will have to be agreed upon by the other 27 countries, and any of them can veto anything, and will. This is the main reason the EU has managed to negotiate so few trade agreements with the rest of the world in the last 43 years.

    Everything coming out of Europe is urgently trying to get us to trigger because they want to take advantage of the turmoil. All the advice coming out of the United States is saying, don’t get do a thing till all your ducks are lined up and the new PM is in place.

    The falling pound in the intervening period helps us, because it puts pressure on a few key european industries ljke car making. We need a few months of pain inflicted on them to get them to lobby their politicians into understanding what is at stake for them (otherwise the EU tend to take hard lines).

    We also need to start trade talks with the rest of the world concurrently, both because it is a good thing and because it again puts negotiating pressure on the EU especially if we’re talking to people who have products that substitute for what the EU sells us. This is why we need to wait till Sept 2nd and not let nervous nellies panic us into moving before we are ready.

    Meanwhile Brexit is already helping some of the southern europeans. The Italian banks have been shaky for a while but the EU’s crazy draconian rules insist on a bail-in by savers before state money is used. Renzi is trying to use Brexit as an excuse to do a state bail-out without forcing savers to bail-in. In other words he’s trying to tear up the EU rules. Dunno if he’ll get away with it, we shall see.

  14. @TOH – “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.”

    I think this is where we may fundamentally disagree. In a binary choice, I really don’t see how a 48.1/51.9 split can be determined to be a clear majority. Just 1.9% of votes moving over is sufficient to produce the reverse result, so it really is a very, very tight vote.

    So tight, in fact, that UKIP had threatened legal action over the extended voter registration if the result was 52/48 the other way.

    But I would agree regarding the care that Parliament needs to take right now. No one wants to be seen to be denying the wishes of the people.

    The philosophically difficult part of this for Brexiters is a simple matter of timing. I saw one calculation from statistician on Saturday who had crunched the numbers regarding voting preference by age, and mortality rates, and he calculated that by Saturday evening, the Leave lead had dropped by around 1000 as older voters died.

    Equally, in a years time there will be a different set of circumstances and some people may decide to vote differently if this is repeated. This is certainly what UKIP and others would have campaigned for had the result been reversed, so it can’t be right for Brexiters to only accept democracy on 23rd June 2016, but at no other future point. The only issues here are the practicalities.

    Logically, I think it is perfectly sensible to conclude a deal with the EU, subject to ratification by the public. From a position of greater certainty, the public would be able to make a reasoned judgement. To deny them this opportunity after already establishing the principle of referenda on three ocassions previously would be a denial of democracy, and if the Brexit camp were so sure of their ground, they too would support such a move to ensure they had democratic legitimacy for everything that followed.

  15. @Hawthorn

    I still think he will get the boot though.

    I hope you are right. But the rank and file may not as yet have the light, and with the recent entryism from the SWP etc it wont be easy to dislodge him. The hard left is more at home fighting the moderate centre left for control of the ‘Party’ than actually doing something productive for the people the party is supposed to represent.


    The sun is now out in the PRL

    Polskie Radio Londyn?

    All are welcome n the People’s Republic of London

  16. @Hawthorn

    You need to actually spend some time in London

    Does living and working here count?

  17. @TOH – “Your 10.10 post about post referendum EU action.

    To be expected, and I suspect unlawful, since we remain in the EU for at least two years 3 months. It’s an example of exactly why we should leave the EU.”

    No. The RPA decision has been entirely taken by Westminster, with absolutely nothing to do with the EU. Some direct grants from Brussels have been terminated – and whyever not. If the UK taxpayer was funding a country (Scotland?) that had decided to leave, I suspect a few people on here would be asking for the spending to be stopped.

    Everything else is coming from Westminster.


    Okay, fair enough.

    Look, even Owen Jones thinks he has to go.

    I still think there may not be a contest. Remember that Tom Watson is best buddies with Len McClusky. You don’t get far in trade union politics without knowing how to do a stitch up. If the hard left then flounce out, then even better.

  19. Alec

    Fair enough we disagree, not the first or last time.

    I am no fan or Farage and as I said the other day if the vote had been 50% + 1 in favour of remain I personally would have accepted that with a heavy heart.

  20. Maxim Parr-Reid

    “If May is in charge we’d win the Westminster seats that correspond to the Holyrood seats we won last month:

    Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk
    Dumfries and Galloway
    Dumfriesshire, Clydesdale and Tweeddale
    West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine”

    If an October? UK GE were to be held under “normal circumstances”, I would probably agree with you. Tactical voting by some SLD and SLab voters for the Tories would most likely turn those seats blue.

    However, in the wake of the Brexit decision by E&W, it may well be that tactical votes are cast in a very different way.

  21. Looking at the likely permutations for the next six months I’d call it as;

    With Parliament rising in late July a labour challenger must be announced in the next two weeks in order for the contest to run in tandem with the Tories and be in place by the next session and the Party conferences.

    That kind of assumes that the internal bloodletting isn’t so wild that everyone on both sides have lost site of reality, although like Michael Ignatieff’s comment on Bosnia I think;

    “Having agreed they couldn’t share it they decided to destroy it together”

    If sense prevails, some hope, they will try to get it done quickly while the tories are occupied elsewhere with their contest, if not a New Tory leader will try to unite the Party and people at it’s conference while Labour activists and Corbynites rip their own MP’s apart at theirs.

    If Labour pull it off I see two outcomes, A PLP acceptable leader that the left will hate and the Unions might not fund or Corbyn that the PLP won’t accept.

    Expect Pro EU Blairites to either form a new party doubtful or Switch to the LIbDems if they are in a Lab?Libdem marginal to be the LibDem candidate in a LibDem target with a falling Labour vote.

    They stay in their seat, the LibDems win a seat, but a kick in the teeth for the previous libDem candidate. A bit of research on target seats margins and labour MP’s attitudes to Corbyn will probably let you stop the top dozen defection candidates.

    I suspect the top two to go to the Tory membership will be Boris and May, Hunt and Fox would only help May be no one but nether will get more votes than Boris.

    I suspect Boris to win and all an autumn election.

    By then he will have triggered A50 in some form and be going for EEA+, which he is unlikely to get but will promise anyway.

    This will infuriate hard core anti immigration Leavers particularly UKIP but that won’t worry the Tories. UKIP are unlikely to get a massive amount of seats nor will the LibDems and they are both more likely to take them from Labour.

    Labour will lose seats to others and the Tory majority will increase, with a limited growth back towards fifty for the Libdems and possibly as many as 10 UKIP, including perhaps one in Wales.

    If however UKIP fight front and centre on Immigration right up to and including EU nations can only stay fro as long as they have been here, perhaps linking to ex labour votes with that old Union principle of; Last In, First Out! then we could see them make a real breakthrough in a nasty bitter campaign!

    In Scotland we may well see the Libdems come out in favour of not just the EU, but also possibly a second referendum, mostly just to position themselves where they think their might be votes but also because it puts pressure on the Tories and makes them look distinctively Scottish.

    It will probably be Better UK/EU but f no UK/EU then let the people decide.

    Given the Scottish EU vote the SNP will continue to do well and there are three possibilities I think likely;

    They will stay more or less where we are in seats 50+.

    Local circumstances and tactical voting plus issues with some current MP’s over expenses and previous behaviour will drop us below 50.

    Option three, not to be ruled out, if the mood for Indy2 is real and strong, with the SNP calling the election a mandate for Indy2, The SNP win every seat.

    Unlikely but it’s only three seats, the Tories might have a new leader Scots dislike, even the borders voted Remain, Labours MP has resigned to push Corbyn out and Carmichael was branded a Liar by a judge in the High Court.

    It’s all Grist for the Mill folks, Grist for the Mill.


  22. Good Late Morning All.

    It must be remembered that Tom Watson was one of the people who fought against Benn and his people on the Hard Left a long time before Blair.

    The Kinnock Generation saved Labour,

  23. As I said to Alec above I am no great fan of Farage but at least the man has b””lls. His speech to the EU parliament (with the exception of a couple of silly comments about not having had real jobs), was first class. He told them why Britain want to leave and what is wrong with the EU, which I found little to disagree with,. Interestingly he did get some muted applause. he made one forecast that the UK will not be the last country to leave the EU. I agree with him, this really could be the beginning of the end of the EU although it will take years.

  24. TOH,
    “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.”

    Leave is not going to be able to obey the will of the people either though.

    A significant and vocal chunk of their supporters thought this was a referendum on immigration, and the recent record migration figures reinforced this. Grassroots Leave-supporters think they have just closed the door on immigrants, taken back their country and protected their national identity.

    Others (like Dyson or Hannan) had a more nuanced view, and saw this purely a test of a particular trade/constitutional settlement. They think they can get a sort of “EU-lite” that is better suited to Britain’s circumstances, which would include access to the single market and freedom of movement.

    It was telling that Johnson’s Telegraph article started by emphasising the closeness of the vote, and the need to “build bridges”. There is no solution which would actually satisfy Leave voters. Sooner or later Leave must tell their voters either to accept economic ruin (under WTO) or an open door to immigration (under EEA). Either way, they will feel deeply betrayed.

  25. This is a political earthquake and the old rules don’t apply. Suppose both factions of Labour, Liberal Democrats and Greens said that in the event of an early general election they will have a pact not to stand against each other, in order to defend the country…..

    That would surely frighten the Conservatives off an early general election. They have a majority and don’t need one. They will then have to carry out the negotiations themselves, and bear the cost of the fall out from the impossible promises. In these circumstances a Conservative “qualified remainer” might be the best to limit the cries of betrayal, to unify the Conservative Party, and make the best of what’s available for the country. A figure like Johnson would not be able to avoid carrying full responsibility for whatever happens.

    Back to the polls, the general public might in the present circumstances well prefer someone soothing and boring who gives the impression of competence. So might some Conservative members, although members of political parties tend to be made of sterner stuff. Let’s hope there are some polls soon, as I suspect there are a lot of non-poiltical people out there who are bewildered and worried at the moment.

  26. ALEC

    @”Logically, I think it is perfectly sensible to conclude a deal with the EU, subject to ratification by the public. ”

    That would be my prefered position-but I’m not seeing it as possible given Merkel & Juncker currently insisting on no discussion before A50 invoked.

    As Candy rightly surmises, I think, once an EU protocol is set in train-they are in charge.

  27. CL1945

    I hadn’t realised that-interesting.

    Those times came back to me as I watched JC on his podium in front of the assembled acolytes.

    He didn’t mention the Referendum once-The Labour Party as Left Wing Street Protest Movement. Thats what you have got now -until he goes.

  28. Sorry for all the spelling errors, posting from my iPhone!
    Small keys and daft autocorrect!


    Polskie Radio Londyn?
    All are welcome n the People’s Republic of London

    I’m probably as guilty as anyone here in using abbreviations, but that’s one I couldn’t find.

    The Urban Dictionary has it as Prove Real Love which seemed unlikely and Polskie Radio Londyn seemed the only possibly relevant “hit” on Google. You could put it forward to the UD if you use it regularly.

  30. Candy,
    “We also need to start trade talks with the rest of the world concurrently, both because it is a good thing and because it again puts negotiating pressure on the EU”

    How do we do this? We don’t have anywhere near enough negotiators.

  31. @Candy – you’ve mentioned the new bank bail in rules a couple of times on here in relation to savers, but I wonder if you are being a little misleading?

    There are valid concerns regarding the new rules, but to use the term ‘savers’ might lead to people making the wrong conclusions.

    The scheme works firstlly by ensuring the state can pick up a banks liabilities only once investors have picked up the tab for 8% of the bank’s total liabilities.

    These losses will be paid firstly by shareholders, then by subordinated bondholders, then senior bondholders and finally by uninsured depositors, with the first E100,000 of saving protected, meaning the vast majority of savers are unaffected.

    The idea is that those investors who have taken risks – and recieved a premium income in respect of those risks – need to accept some of the losses when they make a poor investment choice. Ideally the investors should shoulder the entire loss, but taxpayers are being extremely generous in underwriting 92% of banks liabilities and protecting small savers in order to maintain some kind of stability.

    Some people quote the Cyprus bail outs as an example of the EU ‘stealing people’s saving’, but here small savers were saved any losses and it happened prior to the new rules anyway.

    There are difficulties. In Italy, many small savers have invested in subordinated bonds, without appreciating the risk, so ‘ordinary’ savers face losses. Ultimately that is their lookout – people should be responsible for their own money, and if their sole interest is in chasing the best returns, they increase their risk of getting stung. I’m not a financial journalist, but I declined the chance to get higher saving rates in Iceland banks in 2006 as I had read the weekend finance pages that suggested some issues.

    The big question is what is the alternative? Do we accept that bank investors have carte blanche to take whatever risks they like and we will bail them out regardless?

  32. With French presidential election just 10 months away, the only argument that could prevent the access of Marine LePen to the runoff is “Look what has happened to the Brits since they decided to leave EU”! In fact, the main theme of LePen’s presidential campaign has so far been the need to procede to a Frexit by referendum. So both mainstream French parties, the EPP “Republicans” and the Socialists, both europhilic, will do their best to make things extremely difficult for the Brexit negotiating team of the UK, regardless of who will be leading it.
    It is for a similar reason that the Syriza-led Greek government had to be humiliated in the negotiations for last year’s bailout so that their Spanish counterpart, the Podemos coalition, see their vote share diminished, and this is exactly what happened last Sunday in Spain!

  33. The other issue here, is one which many won’t want to even admit, that the Tory party are now center left, leaving Labour with only the far left, if they want to be different.

    If Labour also move to the centre left, then we are back to the Blair days of ‘they’re all the same’ – because they will be.

    Just as the accusation that Blair was not really Labour, Cameron is not really a Tory, after all what kind of Tory would engage in projects with the Socialist Workers Party ?


    We have enough to talk to the Americans as well as the French, and there appears to be an appetite among at least some in Congress to do just that

    The other issue here, is one which many won’t want to even admit, that the Tory party are now center left, leaving Labour with only the far left, if they want to be different.

    Indeed it’s why I’m not a Tory.

  36. This is what should happen.

    The Tories should put the country before party interests, so that by Thursday there is only one candidate for leader – Boris Johnson. There is then no need for an election, he becomes leader and is automatically the PM, in No.10 by the weekend.

    He should then trigger A50 next Monday, and set up a negotiating team whose main focus will be setting up deals with the rest of the world outside of the EU. If the EU wants to talk to us, fine, but we’re not having a Norway-style arrangement whereby we contribute to the EU budget and allow free movement, that’s not what we voted for.

    We can play hardball. If the EU don’t like it, they can FTFO.

  37. @Colin – yes, I think coordinating the A50 process with getting a democratic mandate is difficult.

    One option would be to agree to start the clock running on the negotiations, with an agreement that once the deal is concluded, the 2 year window is suspended to allow for ratification in the UK. Either we accept the deal, or reject it, in which case we return to the EU fold.

    There would be some issues with this. Firstly, the EU would have some incentive to impose a harsh deal, although they would need to balance this against the damage this could do in the 27 EU remainers as well.

    Secondly, it might encourage the EU to offer a twin package of options, perhaps reinstating Cameron’s deal terms if we rejected the Brexit terms. This would give the EU some leverage to engineer a remain vote, if they wished for that.

    All options have some hard realities and difficult consequences, but in the weeks ahead the hot heads will calm down and much thinking will be done, and in due course the British public, UK politicians and the EU member states will focus on whether they really do want the UK to leave and how this could be organised or prevented.

  38. TOH

    Is your Allotment Party going to increase its votes – now that immigrant plants are going to have to leave?


    Re you 11.36 post . I agree with most of that, some of the Brexit leaders have made some very silly comments since the referendum. There are many reasons why people voted leave but the main thing is they want to leave.

  40. OLDNAT

    Why are immigrant plants going to have to leave.? That was not an issue in the EU allotment referendum.

  41. Alec – “The big question is what is the alternative? Do we accept that bank investors have carte blanche to take whatever risks they like and we will bail them out regardless?”

    Until currency is on a blockchain which means payment processing is independent of banks, the answer is YES. They have to be bailed out if the wider economy is not to be tanked.

    Luckily our own Bank of England is exploring putting sterling on a blockchain controlled by the BoE. It means you would hold your savings directly with the BoE and if the banks went down it wouldn’t matter, bills would still be able to be paid, salaries still received and so on, because the blockchain is a payment processor.

    But they’re a few years from implementing it, they’re still doing testing – in the meanwhile it means shoring up banks.

    As far as I can tell the dinosaur ECB has no</i< plans to explore blockchain solutions at all, which means it's even more important for them that banks do not fail – but at the same time they have all these daft rules preventing the state from stepping in and putting out fires.

  42. TOH,
    “There are many reasons why people voted leave but the main thing is they want to leave.”

    …but they don’t agree on what leaving means. They cannot be looked at as voting in a common direction.

    If you tell someone who thinks they’ve shut the door on EU immigration that actually the door will remain open under the new EEA-type deal, they will say that we haven’t really left the EU at all.

  43. Oh dear! More broken promises from Brexit.

    “Promises have been made and expectations raised during the referendum campaign and it is now time to examine if and how they can be delivered,” said the National Federation of Fishermen’s Organisations.
    Sign up to our EU referendum morning briefing
    Read more

    “Unfortunately, perhaps, the UK’s geopolitical position means that it is not politically or legally possible just to ringfence most of our fish resources, in the way that, for example, Iceland can. The reality is that most of our stocks are shared with other countries to some degree or other.

    “We can certainly seek to renegotiate quota shares, as well as access arrangements, but it is realistic to expect that there will be a price. Who will pay that price is a critical question.”

  44. TOH

    Sadly, some of the vegetables thought that there was a shortage of beds, Brussels sprouts and Chinese mallow would be forced out – leaving more opportunities for “Good King Henry”. :-)

  45. Maxim Parr Read

    I do shudder at the thought of Angela Leadsom as Chancellor. I heard her on the radio this morning and she seems to be stuck in the “band on the Titanic” school of economics, brushing aside the reduction in our credit rating as if it did not matter at all and repeating the view that £100 million per week would be available to spend on the NHS no problem at all (a view now abandoned even by most other Leave campaigners it seems)

  46. Juncker has put an official ban on all contact between EU officials and UK officials until Article 50 is triggered:

    As the Scots are citizens of the UK, this means them too…

  47. TOH,

    It is pretty clear that significant numbers of Leave campaigners voted Leave to annoy David Cameron and were really pretty shocked when Leave won.. I have no idea if that was enough to change the result though! Time will probably tell on that

    Looks like those people may even have included Boris Johnson!

  48. Someone I know works for a South Wales Labour MP. Describes mood in Parliament as ‘grim’ but doesn’t know what’ll happen.

    They have locked the doors at the constituency office after McDonnell’s intervention yesterday. Many party members have called up to express support for Corbyn, and one asked “why are we so concerned with winning an election?”

  49. Sorry, that should have been “Leave voters voted Leave….”

    Boris is the only Leave campaigner that looks like he may have done that!

    Sooner or later Leave must tell their voters either to accept economic ruin (under WTO) or an open door to immigration (under EEA). Either way, they will feel deeply betrayed.

    Quite so, and a pity for them that the EU Referendum Act was written with no indication at all of what leaving the EU means.

    I wonder if the fun and games Lab are having are to deliberately prevent their forming the next UK Government [at least before 2020], as they know what a poisoned chalice that will be.

    Another thought is that if the 2011 FTPA is invoked by the Cons deliberately losing confidence in themselves, then wouldn’t Cameron have to advise Brenda to ask the Leader of the Official Opposition to try to form a government. If the Cons were then to vote confidence in him, it would pass the poisoned chalice to him for a while.

    Obviously none of that would look good for either Con or Lab, but if they played cat and mouse with each other for a while perhaps eventually the electorate would begin to understand what the problem is.

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