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. Remainiacs need to hope it’s May. She is a master of prevarication.

  2. May might well unite the Cons but Boris would then succeed her. Better to get that canker out of the system first?

  3. 500!!!

  4. IDS only four points behind Boris?? Wow…

  5. What’s the exact procedure for whittling the candidates down to two? I presume it’s by votes of MPs, but do they have one vote and the top two go through, or is there some kind of proportional representation whereby the bottom candidate goes out and then second choices are redistributed etc?

  6. They vote and the person with the least is out, then they vote again, etc.

  7. @ Rich

    “So yougov poll shows a majority still backing brexit, and then further still trade only, this despite wall to wall coverage by bbc and media fighting for remain sympathy. Wow! the masses cannot be controlled…”

    Sorry, which poll are you looking at?
    Is it this one?

    Agreed, only 27% want to reverse and return to EU membership.

    However a further 19% want a full EEA option, with freedom of movement.

    That’s a total of 46%

    On the other side we have 10% for ‘nothing to do with the EU’ and 32% want trade only.

    That’s a total of 42%.

    Hmmm. When it’s pointed out that EEA and freedom of movement is all of the obligations with no additional advantages, I wonder how the popularity of that option will work out?

    It seems to me we still are where we were a week ago – a split country.

    Also, if things turn out as badly for the UK as this particularly pessimistic crowd think – look at the numbers on economy worse (52%), prices and taxes up (71% and 55%) and jobs more insecure (47%), then I wonder what those figures will look like.

    I wonder why the ‘buyer’s remorse’ question was not asked, or if it was, why the result was not published.

  8. @ Rich

    “Remainiacs need to hope it’s May. She is a master of prevarication.”

    Given the plurality in the poll you seemed to be quoting earlier is in favour of the EU or an EEA deal, perhaps the Conservatives would be better off with a ‘Remainian’ leader. ;-)

  9. Here’s hoping for a Theresa May victory!

  10. Finchley & Golders Green, Holborn, Tooting, Putney, and Battersea CLPs vote for motions of no confidence in Jeremy Corbyn. Interesting as London is his turf, and also home to biggest memberships.

    However, these things only represent those who turn up at meetings, which is in general not Momentum.

  11. Corbyn looks like a broken man, I can see him surviving. The PLP won’t put a left winger on the vote for leader again, so we will go back to the same old out of touch leader.

  12. Thanks Neil. They obviously don’t change their system very often, as I remember Powell standing against Heath and Maudling and going out in the first round, but I don’t think they went to the members in those days.


    What do you mean? Labour cannot survive as a proletarian movement. If it loses support to UKIP, so be it. Labour needs to be a moderate social-democratic force in politics, like it was under Blair.

  14. Whats her view on Article 50?

  15. “Labour needs to be a moderate social-democratic force in politics, like it was under Blair”


    Rather too neolib under Blair to be considered Social Democrat

  16. “Whats her view on Article 50?”


    When do peeps think article 50 will actually get triggered? If it gets triggered, ‘cos one has one’s doubts…

  17. May is a very canny politician – she is keeping quiet, which is the wise thing to do under the circumstances.

  18. Indeed, a 4% boost for doing and saying basically nothing for two months is quite a feat. That initial lead is looking pretty unassailable. The Tory membership is quite a lot more serious-minded than the Labour membership I think, and can see pitfalls with Johnson.

    I still think Johnson’s in with a shout, but he’s going to have to work for it which I’m not sure he expected would be the case.

    One issue with May is that she hasn’t really been in any “economic” department. Closest she came was a stint as a shadow DWP secretary. The next couple of years is going to be largely about the interface between economics and politics, and I don’t think I’ve ever heard her talk about that.

  19. If we end up with a situation where the membership overrides the considered views of the majority of elected representatives of the houses of parliament , m.e.p’s , lords members , councilors and clps then surely the labour movement can not function as a political organisation , if momentum seize control of the party apparatus and then unleash a stalinist like purge of any of the above deemed disloyal to the leadership where would it end ? in the defestation of hundred’s ? thousands ? ten’s of thousands?

  20. With the aftermath of the EU Referendum being the main topic of politics for the near-future[1], May is almost perfectly positioned to unite the Conservative Party. Paradoxically this is best done by someone from the ‘losing’ side, which avoids the feeling that the winners are imposing on the minority. This poll shows 63% of Tory members voting Leave, 36% Remain compared with YouGov’s split for 2015 Tory voters of 61-39:

    But at the same time May was not one of the more fervent Remainers and wasn’t associated with Project Fear II (This Time it’s Even Dafter), so she has not alienated the majority either. It was even rumoured that she was sympathetic to the Leave side[2].

    Ironically it was setting himself up for the equivalent position that led to Boris joining Brexit Utd (with a very public show of reluctance and doubts)[3]. Except of course he expected Remain to win (but with a minority of Tory votes) so he could put himself forward as the great unifier. Instead he only has the backing of 4% of those who voted Remain (8% in a head-to-head with May), while as Anthony says, May is able to attract from both sides (25% of Leave, 38% of them against Boris hth).

    [1] Of course the main purpose of the Referendum was to do the exact opposite and put the topic to bed. Such a triumph for Cameron (not that it would have worked if Remain had won either).

    [2] Obviously from the Labour point of view it would be ideal to have a leader who was similarly positioned and critical of the EU in many areas, to reassure the third of their voters who went for Leave that they should still support the Party. Oh look, they do! And the PLP are trying to get rid of him.

    [3] As I’ve pointed out before his main aim was to prevent Gove occupying this sweet spot (see various spats today).

  21. “I still think Johnson’s in with a shout, but he’s going to have to work for it which I’m not sure he expected would be the case.”


    spose he might take a senior role under Theresa and then try and maybe go for the top job later…

  22. Mr nameless

    My local party meeting gave 85% backing to corbyn

  23. My local party knows Corbyn will never be PM. I guess Momentum don’t care about that. Young Corbynistas tend not to come to meetings . I think all their activity is on Social Media. Rarely see anyone under 25 campaigning.

  24. Valerie

    Hopefully we will get a poll of labour members soon, but judging by my Facebook feed it will quickly be out of date. Lots of unexpected people joining the Labour party in the wake of these recent events


    Finchley & Golders Green, Holborn, Tooting, Putney, and Battersea CLPs vote for motions of no confidence in Jeremy Corbyn. Interesting as London is his turf, and also home to biggest memberships.

    As you imply, if people had know the motion was to have been discussed it might be different though. But of course these London CLPs also have a high percentage of activists and officers who work for MPs, think tanks, trade unions, as SpAds, on Councils and so on. So they are part of what you might call the ‘New Labour Economy’ – paid defenders of the current Labour hierarchy[1]. Indeed they are effectively in the lower layers of it and many will hope to rise higher.

    As such the victory of Corbyn threatened them in all sorts of ways – financial, career-wise, ideological, even social. That smooth progression in the world of politics might be cut off. So of course he is being met with fanatical resistance – they see him as a threat to their way of life and their worldview.

    And this is reinforced by the effects of Westminster Bubble groupthink. The people around them (politicians, officials, media) all say that ‘Corbyn can’t win’ even though previous prognostications of doom have failed (and they haven’t been that great at winning themselves). The same voices said he couldn’t win the leadership and are no doubt still saying that Boris is the only possible winner. In such an environment being correct isn’t a plus (indeed it may be dangerous), conformity is all.[2].

    This explains why the actual accusations against Corbyn are so vague and trivial: some underling didn’t turn up at a meeting; ‘people’ feel he didn’t support the EU; he doesn’t show ‘leadership’, which oddly appears to mean doing what he’s told; Blairites complain he’s behaving like Blair. Because the groupthink says that he must go, he must go. Reality for good or ill is not considered.

    [1] Their equivalents exist in other Parties as well of course, but the Conservative workforce seems more dispersed and the Lib Dems have mainly lost their jobs.

    [2] Compare behaviour in financial industries before the Crash.

  26. SYZYGY

    IIRC one of the first acts of Tony Blair was to pass legislation that the word ‘Labour’ could not be used in the title of another party. Tad paranoid but then he knew what he intending to enact. As I say IIRC…

    I don’t think it was that specific, but what the Blair government did do was to enforce the registration of Political Parties, which means that the names have to be registered. I think part of the registration process is that you can’t have a name that might be mistaken for another one (like products and ‘passing off’). So any name would have to mean there were no grounds for confusion.

    If the breakaway PLP Party are looking to see what names they can have a play about to see what is still available:

    though a Social Democratic Party is still around, so that’s out and Independent Labour Group was used for a split on Harrow Council. The Al-Zebabist Nation of Ooog is taken as well, so they may have to make the shortlist a bit longer.

  27. RICH (fpt)

    Don’t be so sure labour are safe in the big cities, we would have thought that about Scotland not long ago. The only truly safe city is the moronic tribal Liverpool who would vote red as my grandad used to say, even if they ‘pinned a red rosette on a donkey’.

    I’ve seen this sort of thing said very often[1], when even the most desultory googling would show you that Liverpool was under Lib Dem control as recently as 2010:

    and the 12 years before. Indeed since its formation under current boundaries in 1974, Labour has only had absolute control for 11 years or so and before that control was also far from uniform.

    Your grandad must have been thinking of Manchester[2]. Or it shows the power of stereotype over reality.

    [1] Most recently in an extraordinary article in the Guardian:

    where they announced that they were going to send up a reporter to the city to discover what was going on, with all the condescension of a Great White Chief being sent into Darkest Africa (indeed the article was basically asking for native bearers to meet them at Lime Street). This also claimed that Liverpool was a ‘long-term bastion of the Left’. (He’s also wrong about Glasgow).

    [2] Of which it has been said that its motto Concilio et Labore translates as ‘The Council is always Labour’.

  28. A Theresa May victory is probably going to happen. First, because YouGov’s polling of members for a leadership race has been quite good, so this looks like May is practically anointed. Second, it allows for the whole Referendum to be tied to Gove and Johnson, and dropped into the north sea.

    The conduct of the campaign will be blamed on Gove and Johnson. Of course we now know that freedom of movement is not negotiable, and in our favour to retain it. And if we are retaining it, there’s really no reason to leave the EU. Understanding noises will be made, but of course the referendum was only ever advisory…

    Thus saving the Conservative party from the existential crisis of the City-Of-London withdrawing funding from them. And also incidentally prevent the break up of the UK…

    They might lose voters, they might not be in government for long. But that’s better than the whole party ceasing to exist through lack of funds. And they might not want the UK to break up either.

  29. @Jayblanc

    Yep, they stand to lose the banks, the funding, and Scotland, to which no one seems to have an answer other than they’ll negotiate a wondrous deal. When in fact Europeeps gave diddly squat to Cameron before, and they can’t afford to set a risky precedent that would encourage others to threaten to leave, and europeeps would quite like to get their mitts on the banking.

    It’s like what we really have is a phantom Brexit…

  30. If someone in the Conservative government does not trigger Article 50 it will be like handing sections of the Conservative and Labour Party over to Farage and UKIP.

    Better to negotiate and fail, and come back and ask for Parliament to vote to not “Brexit”.

    The fly in the ointment is of course that many EU leaders will be glad to get rid of the breaks put on deeper integration by the UK.

    Even if I personally disagree with the decision I do not see how the English can walk back from the edge of the cliff, after they have jumped off.

    The margin of victory for leave in England and Wales is larger than Scotland staying in the UK.

    The English cannot have their cake and eat it to.

  31. There’s space to the left of Blair that’s still electable, just not where Jez is. Milibandism, if he’d been prettier, kept a consistent them throughout and Cameron hadn’t lit a fire north of the border, could very well have won.


    @”May is almost perfectly positioned to unite the Conservative Party. Paradoxically this is best done by someone from the ‘losing’ side, which avoids the feeling that the winners are imposing on the minority. ”

    Posted this view a while ago.

    It also puts Boris in box marked-Your Fault If It Goes Wrong, rather than tainting the whole Party in Government.

    But she needs to turn up the charm volume quite a bit-if she is capable ???

  33. @Roger Mexico – your point about Liverpool and the Lib Dems is extremely pertinent, and should give the frothing at the mouth Corbyn fanatics pause for thought (if indeed they actually think).

    Liverpool was at the heart of the Militant farce in the 1980’s, and this lost Labour the city for years. Momentum could try something similar again, and lose Labour their heartlands and their country for years again too, but this time in a far more fractured political environment, there is much less guarantee that a single labour party could come back together and win power at some future time.

    On the party name – Mrs A opines that Labour, or whatever
    replaces it, needs a change of name anyway. ‘Labour’ is an outdated term, with little emotional appeal. It denotes a specific group of working people, and the vast majority of workers today don’t see themselves as ‘labourers’. In itself, the word has no meaning, and no tug. It’s old fashioned, and represnts in voters minds an old fashioned concept. The advent and decline of ‘New’ Labour adds an additional philosophical confusion.

    In her mind, better wipe the slate clean and call the new lfet party ‘The Progressive Party’. No mention of left, Labour, democrat or social/socialist. The Progressives has a certain ring to it, it’s inclusive, and in true Ronseal style, it communicates just what it says on the tin.

    Labour are finished now, so it’s time to move on and provide centre left voters with something they can support. This seems as good a starting point as any.

  34. Can’t resist this, off topic so apologies.

    Junker (angry) to Farage “Why are you here?

    reply “I was elected, why are you here?”

    I’m no great fan of Farage but he makes me smile from time. This made me nearly wet myself with laughter. :-)

  35. TOH

    Your joke would be more amusing if Farage, a member of the EU Parliament fisheries committee, had turned up for more than just one of the 42 meetings since he’s been a member.

    So much for standing up for our fishermen!

  36. Maxim Parr-Reid,

    Was it good for Britain when Farage publicly and very visibly insulted the people we’re supposed to be negotiating with for a good deal?

    Are his words going to make it more or less likely that the EU will make concessions favourable to the UK?

    If anything, he is making it politically more difficult for the EU to show Britain any mercy. These actions show Farage is either stupid or he doesn’t really care about Britain’s interests.

  37. @ MrNameless

    I’m not sure you’re quite right with Miliband. He still faced lower level carping from the Labour right wing and less than total support. There were quite a few issues where his proposals were not met with a united front such as mansion tax which to my mind was a pretty small and harmless demonstration of wealth redistribution especially given the issues over foreign investment in posh London property (often left semi empty).

    This no confidence vote has desperately damaged the Labour Party. For someone on the left of the party but not welded to Corbyn philosophy and fully accepting his presentational issues it puts me in an impossible situation.

    Corbyn is no longer electable because voters do not respond well to divided parties and the press would have a field day pointing out that 3/4’s of his own party MPs do not agree with whatever manifesto is put forward.

    Equally, for someone of the left, there is no point going back to the way things were and allowing MPs to change the party back to what didn’t appear to be an inspiring vision for change or a winning formula. Those MPs are not representative of either the membership or, arguably, their voters either.

    The Tory party is still likely to implode or leak votes if Brexit comes with no change to freedom of movement. The economic instability which is inevitable during a period of change would also have played out for Labour. Labour could have kept their heads down but the Labour right chose not to.

  38. Edge of Seat

    Maybe he want’s to ensure we can’t renege on the Brexit result?

    I don’t think he’s looking for concessions, he’s ensuring they want rid of us as much as he wants rid of them.


  39. COLIN

    But [May] needs to turn up the charm volume quite a bit-if she is capable ???

    I’m not sure that she does need to. After all Boris’s Old Etonian charm seems to be leading to rapidly falling ratings and Cameron’s hardly did much to sway the electorate to stay in Europe[1]. Maybe modest honesty from an ex-Wheatley Park Comprehensive girl might work better with the public at the moment.

    Although someone was worried that she didn’t have experience in or shadowing an economic department (though her shadow experience was otherwise extensive), her background in economics seems solid enough. According to Wiki:

    Between 1977 and 1983 May worked at the Bank of England, and from 1985 to 1997 as a financial consultant and senior advisor in International Affairs at the Association for Payment Clearing Services.

    So at least someone will know what JayBlanc is on about. An air of quiet competence could be more attractive to Conservative members at the moment than Boris’s calculatedly-bumbling ‘charm’.

    It’s true that one of the characteristics that Johnson beats May on is “Would be the most intelligent”. But then Boris always strikes me as the perfect example of that great put-down: “A stupid person’s idea of what a clever person is”. More significantly, though Johnson also wins on election-friendly qualities (48% to 21%), Conservative members think a new PM “should not call an early general election later this year”[2] by 68% to 25%. Oddly enough Boris-backers are even less enthusiatic than May’s.

    [1] Before the PLP mounted their diversionary tactic, we were busy discussing whether Cameron (Eton) was an even more incompetent PM than Lord North (Eton) or Anthony Eden (Eton). Another OE might not quite fit in with with the tone of the times. Or given the complete blizzard of uselessness we have seen from the political class over the last week, maybe not.

    [2] Yes I know that’s not technically how it works.

  40. Bardin1,

    Possibly, but then you have to ask where Farage’s true allegiances lie. He certainly isn’t being pro-British.


    As I said I am no fan of Farage but can’t you see the reality behind the funny on-liner.

    For me and many like me Junker stands for all that is wrong with the EU. Indeed I posted the other day that Junker’s late bullying intervention in the referendum campaign was the final nail in the coffin for the remain side.

    Edge of Seat

    His remark about jobs was plain stupid and insulting even if partially true (how many UK MPs have had what most of us would consider proper jobs). The rest I thought a reasonable summary of what is wrong with the EU, put robustly. Does it help our negotiations? If they were happening now, no. In three months time? I doubt it will even be remembered.

  42. Some Cons members may be swayed by the need to a new PM not just to attempt to unite the Tory Party but also the country.
    My guess is that polls will show May way ahead of Johnson amongst non Tory voters.
    She is a conservative and I don’t support her but at least I would not be embarrassed with her as PM.

  43. ToH – I agree re Farage one-liner it was simply funny and telling at the same time.

    and re Junker, we are more responsive commission to reasonable concerns we would have had a different result on Thursday (only 2% needed).

  44. After 35 years of unswerving loyalty to the Labour party I left in 2005 because I couldn’t see the difference between Blair and the Tories. I didn’t vote Labour again until after he’d gone. The party needed to move decisively back to the left. But Jeremy Corbyn as leader? We might as well have a block of wood.

    I’m only a marginal activist now. So Roger’s thoughtful analysis doesn’t apply to me. The fact is I would rather slit my wrists than see Corbyn as Prime Minister.

    Since this is nominally a polling site I would say the margin in the poll is such that May must be in the lead. It was Yougov IIRC who predicted Corbyn would win the Labour poll.

  45. Gove running.

    Let the hunger games begin.

  46. Gove to stand for Tory leadership.

    Well that certainly changes things.

  47. Edge of Seat

    I think he thinks he IS being pro-British, even if 82% of us don’t agree

  48. @Shevii
    I too am on the left of the party and not wedded to Corbynista philosophy. I’m afraid the Corbynistas round here are pretty consistently student union, interested in battles around the rule book, passing pointless motions and doing down anybody who is trying to make a go of winning elections or being an elected representative in this very difficult environment.
    None of them campaign or appear to talk to anybody but members.
    I think it’s wrong to characterise those who are seeking to depose Corbyn as right wingers. Obviously, many are on the right but many more are centre or soft left: what I think unites them is a desire to win, and a belief that we have no hope with Corbyn. A view I share. Whether it will end well is another matter and there’s a risk the outcome could be even worse.
    If there’s a split, aside from the small matter of the name (which I think is of massive importance to yer average disengaged voter who ‘has always been Labour, obviously, why do you ask?’) there is also the matter of money. My CLP has money in the bank and valuable property, which presumably would stay with the Corbyn tendency, for the short term at least (what’s that old proverb about money and soon parted?)

  49. @ Alec

    The Militant farce as you called it was much more complicated.

    In order that Labour could win in Liverpool, sectarian lines had to be crossed (Sotland Road really), and it was done by a bunch of young (mainly trade union) activists, who later signed up for Militant.

    Labour won in the early 1980s, but then was voted out due to an increase in the council tax – this was a lesson for the local Labour Party that started to move heavily to the left, and Militant was the most vocal voice in it. They won the control over the council on the basis of a welfare programme.

    If you go around in Liverpool, you can see the social housing that were built during those years.

    Finances were an issue – in those years councils were rewarded if they cut their expenditure, and hence council tax. Liverpool had a special issue – due to the base year, it got significantly less central government funding than it should have. The council was convinced that they would get that difference and that the national LP would support them.

    So they set an illegal budget. Actually, they could have avoided it had the unions called a three day strike (it was asked), but instead they organised a huge demonstration. This was the origin of the redundancy notice thing.

    47 councillors who were fined – the money was raised by the public.

    The support for the Broad Left (led by Militant) had strong support until about 1991 (in that year, all their candidates were elected to the council). Then Labour lost the council for some time.

    Today many of those from Militant are not in the Labour Party, but in the TUSC (but some are). Liverpool Labour is riding on a pretty successful city council, the dislike of the conservative (and earlier the coalition – which meant that LibDem councillors lost their seats year after year, and there were defections) government’s policies which are considered unjust – rather than far left activism. Trade unions are important for the local Labour Party – especially public sector ones (the high proportion of public sector employees is a key to understand the general left leaning tendency around here). In May the LibDems gained seats – in areas where they had councillors before the coalition. Anti-Labour vote (which has always existed) that moved to UKIP after 2010, started to move back to LibDem.

    There is a pretty good BBC radio programme about the 1980s Liverpool. It is on IPlayer, but I can’t look for it right now.

  50. What strange times we live in

    Listening to Radio Scotland Independence phone in jointly with Scottish and Gibralter residents, simultaneous with Gove announcing he is in the Tory leadership race.

    Who would have predicted this just 7 days ago…

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