Tomorrow’s Times has a poll of Conservative party members about the forthcoming leadership election, showing Theresa May ahead of the supposed favourite, Boris Johnson. Asked who would they would prefer as party leader May is on 36% to Johnson’s 27% (Andrea Leadsom and Stephen Crabb are both on 7%, Liam Fox is on 4%). Party members only actually get to vote on the final two candidates of course, and in a straight contest between Theresa May and Boris Johnson current support stands at May 55%, Johnson 38% – a seventeen point lead for May. The full tables are here.

Theresa May appears to have had a good EU referendum campaign or at least, by standing a little aside from it her reputation has survived intact while most other Tory politicians have been damaged. When YouGov asked Tory members if they had positive or negative impressions of various politicians 72% were positive about May, up 4 from before the referendum. In contrast Boris Johnson was at 58% (down 18 since the referendum), Gove 63% (down 6), Sajid Javid 42% (down 8), IDS 54% (down 9), George Osborne 47% (down 21). She is also one of relatively few figures who is positively regarded by both those members who supported remain and those members who supported leave.

Part of the turnaround appears to be the perception that Theresa May is better placed to unite the party – 64% of party members said this was one of the most important considerations (up twenty points since Febrary) and May has a thirty point lead over Johnson on who would be better able to unite the party (46% to 16%). Given the current political and economic situation, she also has a lead over Johnson on ability to handle a crisis (49% to 18%), taking tough decisions (46% to 18%) and negotiating with Europe (32% to 22%).

Boris Johnson’s own strengths are still apparent though – he is seen as by far the best media performer and the candidate who best understands how to win an election. Both he and Stephen Crabb are ahead of Theresa May on who party members think would be most in touch with ordinary people. While the poll shows him losing in a May -vs- Johnson run off, they still suggest Boris would win in a run-off against Stephen Crabb (by 54% to 31%) or Liam Fox (by 52% to 29%).

This is, of course, a very early poll – it was conducted between Monday and Wednesday, so before nominations opened or the final list of candidates was confirmed. Party members don’t yet know what pledges and promises the candidates will make, what their detailed stance will be on Europe or other key issues. For less well known candidates like Stephen Crabb many members won’t know much about them at all. As the race begins though, Theresa May has the early advantage.

1,618 Responses to “YouGov poll of Conservative party members – MAY 55%, JOHNSON 38%”

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  1. Met two of my colleagues today. Both are from the EU. They are highly respected in the profession, they have a young family. They just bought a new house. They are absolutely scared. Quite unbelievable and could become very damaging.

    (Due to marriage, and the right to live in this country since 1993, I’m not really affected, but it is quite sad).

  2. @ ALEC

    The UK government petitions were intended so that a popular idea would be seen to have had an effect in parliament. It worked for some ideas, like the meningitis one.

    But referendum petitions are a complete waste of time. Everyone knows that a lot of people wanted to stay in the EU – 16 million people voted that way. Getting over a million signatures for something we already know is just pointless. It will change exactly nothing.

    3:1 Remain v Leave and 3:1 UK Union v Indy

    Watching it now via filmon. So far, the BBC decision seems to have been a masterly SNAFU, with Hyslop needing only masterly inactivity while the other 3 squabble.

  4. In preparation for our American friends coming in from their celebrations –


  5. @Sorrel – don’t agree. Leavers and remainers should be able to agree on a second vote, as this time we would know what we are voting for.

    @CR – if they reject the terms, we stay.

  6. @David carrod

    Unless things have changed radically since I worked on legislation in Whitehall I can’t see how Statutory Instruments – secondary legislation established by primary legislation – can be used to repeal the European Communities Act unless it had a Henry VIII clause in it which I can’t see having looked at it. You may want to believe that Brexit can be achieved simply but I can see no option other than a lot of complicated primary legislation.

  7. @ ALEC

    When I see an idea from those on the “Remain” side that isn’t based on “this time we can win”, but instead of working with those who wanted to leave and addressing their concerns – then I’ll pay attention to it.

    Trying again in the hope of overturning the result is a demonstration of not wanting to listen to the other side. That was the problem in the first place.

  8. re: young people in Wales;

    It is a mistake to think that young people are a homogeneous group, any more than old people. In my opinion the critical factor in majority Leave vs majority Remain was university education, which of course correlates strongly with both age and social class.

    I suspect that far more Welsh graduates are working in England than vice versa, in which case it may well be the case that young people in Wales voted Leave…

  9. LASZLO,

    My German friends told me they find themselves looking at people in the supermarket wondering which of them want them to go back to Germany..

    Leadsom has definitely scored a goal over May by committing to EU nationals that they can all stay here.. And if Theresa May is going to start that negotiation by saying “we don’t trust you Europeans to play fair by British pensioners” she is making a big mistake… Although a very typical one given her record on civil liberties…

  10. @Hawthorn

    Re May and EU nationals I think it’s the difference between being responsible in office and irresponsible in campaigning.

    I can’t see any other feasible stance than the one the Government is taking:

    a. if the Government gave some residency status to EU nationals without some agreed reciprocal arrangements with each of the other 27 EU states, it would appear to be and in substance would be putting the interests of EU nationals above those of British nationals in the EU.

    b. is there a legal way to change the status of EU nationals here – in effect restricting their current rights if we do anything other than offer full UK citizenship – while we are still members of the EU?

    c. even if there is, exactly what residency rights do we want to give them?

    d. how can that be done without provoking a surge in EU immigration before we leave? If it is to be restricted to those already here how is an already overstretched Immigration Service going to verify and endorse the status of possibly a million or more people in a short space of time?

    e. if the Leave campaigners really believed what they said about the impact of immigration on our public services why should EU nationals be allowed to remain and would many of those who voted Leave be happy about allowing them to remain?

    And so on. The crocodile tears of Brexiters like Leadsome on this subject either show sheer opportunistic hypocrisy or complete superficiality of thinking or maybe both. They willed the ends, they now have to live with the consequences.

  11. I find UK (English politics) very odd. When the neo-liberal and neo-conservative Canadian Reform party smashed the “Progressive Conservatives” in 1993, which in part was a reaction to the 1988 Free Trade agreement with the United States the leaders of that movement did not “resign” and walk away. They stayed and eventually formed the federal government from 2006 to 2015.

    First Prime Minister Cameron resigns on the grounds that he was not asking for a mandate to leave, then Boris declines to run to lead the Conservatives and now Farage resigns the leadership of UKIP, saying he wants to focus on helping other countries leave the EU.

    Does no one have a plan or the “guts” to invoke A50 and lead the UK out of the EU to a bright and prosperous future? As a remain voter I accept that England and Wales voted unequivocally for leave, while defending the right of Northern Ireland and Scotland to stay in the EU as they unequivocally voted to remain.

    The neo-cons and neo-liberals in Canada at least had plan and 40% of the electorate gave them a complete term as a majority government to implement it, and then threw them out in favour of returning to the centrist Liberals.

    Interestingly Labour, the Lib Dems and Greens are all reporting an influx of new members since June 23rd. Are the Conservatives and UKIP also growing?

    The Greens are also calling on the Lib Dems and Labour to join in an electoral pact to prevent the UK lurching to the right or extreme right.

    On a personal note the last person I shared a house with in England, in Hucclecote outside Gloucester in 1970, was a Polish refugee, who as child was carried across a river and saw both his parents shot and killed by Russian troops.

    The notion that leaflets would be circulated calling Polish migrants “vermin” is distressing to me, especially given that I lost an uncle in the battle of Britain fighting alongside Polish and Czech airmen.

    I accept that “Leave” have a right to implement the result, but am appalled at the ongoing attacks on migrants and UK citizens of non-UK origins of colour, ethnic and religious diversity.

  12. @Andy

    We’re all appalled by it.


    I’m not sure it’s opportunistic. Brexit is the “baby” of people like Leadsom. They resent it being tarnished with the stain of intolerance (see Andy above). Whereas for the government, as you say, it is more of a logical “don’t negotiate till you’re negotiating” concept. Although I have to say, the very notion that the EU might not let existing UK citizens residing there stay gives you some idea how much the EU is distrusted and thought of essentially as an oppressive, self-aggrandizing, self-serving empire.

  13. New thread folks (though it’s on last week’s YG poll on Lab leadership – so “new” may not be the appropriate term. :-) )

  14. Andy S
    Just one point. Farage is not even an MP, let alone in the government so he could only have very limited influence on any negotiations with the EU.

  15. @LASZLO

    I think it extremely unlikely that the government will end the residence rights of existing EU citizens in the UK. Nothing to worry about.


    “The notion that leaflets would be circulated calling Polish migrants “vermin” is distressing to me, especially given that I lost an uncle in the battle of Britain fighting alongside Polish and Czech airmen.”

    Many people have short memories. And the ‘people’ who send this type of hate mail are pure subhumans, the lowest scum on the planet. This is all the result of Brexit – it has let all the demons out.

  17. @HIRETON

    I pretty much agree with you. May is the rational one here, not the master manipulators like Andrea ‘take back control’ Leadsom. Leadsom and Farage couldn’t care less if all the EU residents were carried away by UFOs – this is all PR.

  18. @ANDREW111

    Choosing between May and Leadsom is like choosing between a rock and a hard place. I want neither – in my dreams I would like Tim Farron as PM, but a dream it will remain. I don’t see any true Tory pro-Europeans left; the old ‘decent’ class of Tory grandee like Hurd and Heseltine seems to have died away and now we are only left with the nationalist little Englanders, the heirs of Tebbit and the like.

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