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%”

1 2 3 4 33
  1. So Gove throws his hat in the ring…

    I fully expect Crabb, Leadsom and Johnson to also fight for the premiership. And out of those, I feel like only Gove and Leadsom have a chance of making it to the final two.

    I don’t think May will fight it. She probably has wanted it for a long time, but will be advised against it.


    This story also points to the confusion within Labour ranks, stemming directly from the ledership.

    It seems odd, that Corbyn’s followers cite the constitution when it suits them, but ignore it at other times, but whereas I originally hoped that Corbyn could be a genuinely inclusive leader, it’s clear that the intention is to appear to give roles and backing to a wide range of political strands within the party, while developing exclusive. parallel operations throughout.


    Maybe you right-anyway unless she has a desire to inflict even more chaos on us with an early GE, she doesn’t need to worry about anything except leadership & competence till 2020.

    ……………assuming the handful of Conservative members don’t prefer the bloke on the Zip Wire of course.

    Here’s praying !

  4. Gove or Johnson v May in the run off was predicted by many once Osborne became exaggerator in chief and lost credibility all round.

    Gove or Johnson depends on whether style or substance matters most to Tory MPs in aggregate.

  5. ALEC

    Liverpool was at the heart of the Militant farce in the 1980’s, and this lost Labour the city for years.

    That’s not quite true. In actual fact Militant’s enthusiasm revitalised an almost comically moribund local Party and helped them regain power which had already been lost to the Liberals. Of course they were a disaster once they got in and left a dreadful mess once they were (rightly) expelled, but electorally they were rather successful.

    I actually think ‘Progressive’ is a dreadful, meaningless name (as bad as that evil phrase ‘going forward’) and has been used historically by a whole range of Parties across the political spectrum, which rather proves the point. It also seems to be currently used by a Scottish micro-Party:

  6. @ TOH

    “Can’t resist this, off topic so apologies.
    Junker (angry) to Farage “Why are you here?
    reply “I was elected, why are you here?””

    A witty riposte I’ll grant you.

    But as so much that emerges from Farage’s mouth it doesn’t really bear closer examination.

    For Junker was, of course, elected, first by a majority of 26 to 2 in the European Council – consisting of the democratically elected leaders of the member states. Arguably holding the broadest democratic mandate of any group, given that nearly all the members have to command a majority in their parliament or a presidential election.

    Secondly he was elected by the very European Parliament in which Farage uttered these nonsensical words. On 15 July 2014 422 members voted in favour, 250 against, 47 abstained. Perhaps Farage doesn’t recall as his attendance record (unlike his expense claims) have been so paltry over the years.

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

    Well, no. Not because I’m humourless but because Juncker got his presidency by being elected.

    As the BBC put it at the time:

    “A majority in the European Parliament has approved former Luxembourg PM Jean-Claude Juncker to be President of the European Commission.
    He got 422 votes out of the 729 total cast in the secret ballot, despite strong opposition earlier from Britain.”

    Actually, I was an anticipating a response from you along the lines of, “I don’t blame Farage for not turning up to a toothless talking-shop like the fisheries committee. What’s it ever done for UK fishermen?”

    So I checked on the record of another committee member, Scottish Tory MEP Ian Duncan. Although no fan of the CFP, he has worked tirelessly on behalf of Scottish fishermen and made a real difference. Here’s his website’s report on one example:

    “In a near unanimous vote the European Parliament’s Fishing Committee (PECH) has backed Ian Duncan MEP’s plan for a workable fish discard ban. Committee members voted 17 to 1 in favour of Dr Duncan’s proposal, which will give Fishermen two years to adapt to new rules banning the discard of fish. The discard ban is part of the reformed Common Fisheries Policy, brought in to stop caught fish being thrown back into the sea.

    Dr Duncan has campaigned in support of the ban but raised concerns that the European Commission was trying to push the reforms through too quickly and without the proper legal basis.”

    He went on to comment:

    “I am however disappointed that my fellow Fishing Committee member David Coburn (UKIP) was not present for the vote. This could have had major consequences for the Scottish Fishing industry and as an MEP representing Scotland I would have expected Mr Coburn to be fully engaged in the process, especially as he was oddly in favour of the original Commission proposal.”

    Duncan is an example of working within the EU system and achieving results, instead of sitting on your backside and making cheap cracks.

  8. Boris Johnson looks finished before it’s even begun. By looking at Gove’s statement, and the ‘leaked’ email, his declaration can only have one purpose: Stop Boris.

  9. ALEC

    Interesting article.

    When are they going to get it.

    Corbyn is a puppet . McDonnel is the puppeteer. Momentum is the power base. Street Protest, Facebook & Twitter are the Legislature. MPs are stooges in a Parliament to be dictated to bt The Proletariat.

    They won’t let him resign.

    I’m fascinated by the shadowy characters -have you seen this chap-he’s always there on the podium.. Always reminds me of a zombie in tv interviews-interesting background. Clearly a horny handed son of the working class !

  10. The Social Democratic Party is surely the new name. Given the struggle for it’s soul It has to say what it isn’t as well as what it is doesn’t it?

  11. @ SommerJohn

    We posted simultaneously – though you commendably spelt Juncker’s name correctly, which I failed to do.

  12. @STEVE

    Gove is a fool. He has zero charisma and would be disastrous leader, worse than Johnson. Gove is totally in the Farage mould and cares nothing for the pro-Europe, pro-business wing of the Conservative Party, which is still strong.

  13. @ Colin

    “The Social Democratic Party is surely the new name. Given the struggle for it’s soul It has to say what it isn’t as well as what it is doesn’t it?”


    Taken unfortunately. However correct it might have been in Faustian pact sense.

  14. And May announces to run. Guess I was proven wrong just a few minutes after my prediction!

  15. Cons

    There ought to be a genuine Brexiteer and from the look on their faces after the result neither Gove nor Johnson are.

  16. It does seem as the Conservatives seem to be taking a leaf out of the Labour Party’s ‘Chaos? We’ll have a bit of that!’ zeitgeist.

    Judging by yesterday’s ‘leaked’ email, their leadership campaign could be extremely acrimonious.

    I’m not sure what assurances Johnson failed to give to Gove, however, it seems they’ll emerge in due course. At the time it was assumed they had to do with personal ambition – but if they related to any intention on Boris’ part to ‘betray the Brexit cause’ that could be toxic.

    Not only fatal for Johnson’s leadership hopes, but damaging to any attempts to bring the Tories together again. If this becomes an election about ‘keeping the Vote Leave’ flame alive, then all bets are off on Conservative unity.

  17. I think any remain supporters will be disappointed by May – she is not likely to change the tune. Politicians are more concerned with votes than anything else, and personal principle tends to fall by the wayside more often than not. I’m beginning to feel that Johnson is the best option for the non-brexiteers.

  18. Assiduosity

    Of course but glad you agree it was very funny (still laughing inside). Surely you can see the inner truth though about Junker, who ran or was foreign minister in one of Europes tax havens. He is a laughing stock among many other Europeans (don’t ask for the references I can’t be bothered) as i am sure you know.

    Re our discussion yesterday I took profits first thing this morning as stock s tend to go down towards the end of the week.

  19. Seems strange that we still don’t have a poll of the labour members, even stranger that there isn’t a poll about the recent shenanigans. What do the public think of the party trying to replace the leader against the wishes of the membership? A party that is so frightened of its members that it can’t /won’t put up a leadership challenger? And regardless of the merits or otherwise of the current leader, what do the public think of the timing?

  20. So the Tories are in trouble as well as Labour.

    Who’d have thought it?

    Agree with those who dislike the name Progressive Party. Might as well call it the Double-Plus Good Party.


    So you don’t have a sense of humour, and cannot see what is toxic at the center of the EU. Fair enough I have and I can.

  22. Hawthorn

    “So the Tories are in trouble as well as Labour.”

    Why? I am sure they will have a vigorous election of the new PM then it will all settle down, Brexit will go ahead and they will continue governing the country. Just IMO of course and since I’m not a Tory I admit I am not close to the Tory party but I am an interested observer.

  23. CR –
    ” What do the public think of the party trying to replace the leader against the wishes of the membership?”

    That is your assertion, until a vote is held none of us know, although I believe it will not be as clear cut as you suggest.

    I have made clear that I think the timing is ill-judged but the MPs are following the party constitution.
    Just like the Bennites did when Tony stood against Kinnock in 1988.

  24. The new party certainly can’t have democratic as part of its name, well it could, but it would be positively Orwellian

  25. Jim jam

    A resignation once an hour until the leader steps down is part of the labour Constitution? I can’t remember the bennites doing that

  26. @ Tancred

    “Gove is a fool. He has zero charisma and would be disastrous leader, worse than Johnson. Gove is totally in the Farage mould and cares nothing for the pro-Europe, pro-business wing of the Conservative Party, which is still strong.”

    I’m not sure that Give is a fool, far from it.

    He is actually quite erudite, an engaging speaker and genuinely well (if rather conservatively) read. The last of these is a true rarity these days amongst politicians cf Macmillan, Foot, Heath, Hague or Roy Jenkins.

    However, he is deeply intransigent, and once he forms an opinion – even on relatively minor matters – he will dig in as a matter of principle. In my personal experience this stubbornness persists beyond the point at which he intellectually accepts the contrary position.

    I’m not sure where this almost pathological inflexibility comes from – I’m sure pop psychologists would claim it has its roots in insecurity – but it’s not a helpful trait in a negotiator.

    Some would cite his dealings with the teaching unions as an example – I think that’s too political to be true evidence – but his approach to personally taking charge of the development of the curriculum in history and English grammar point to a man unable and unwilling to take impartial advice. We now literally have a English curriculum (in England) that teaches children a form of grammar that has been invented by Gove (the English subjunctive). It was therefore hardly surprising that he compared economic experts to Nazi sympathisers in the campaign.

    Whoever steers the UK through the forthcoming negotiations cannot take such a cavalier approach to advice – otherwise we might as well have Farage.

    Conservatives would also do well to remember that so toxic did Gove become to a key section of the electorate that David Cameron was advised to – and did – remove him from the front line of politics in the run up to the 2015 GE.

    How shrewd a choice, politically and diplomatically would he be? The implosion bug seems to be catching.

  27. So that’s Gove and May in the run off and Gove as next PM….
    and Johnson as next SoS for Northern Ireland ? :-)

  28. CambridgeRachel

    The media are all-in against Corbyn and judging by the Corbyn type people i know they are definitely being swayed by that but so far only from pro-Corbyn to neutral and confused rather than anti.


    Ho ho ho.

    Just imagine the Brexiters, who campaigned for the restoration of British sovereignty and British justice, trying to explain that under British justice, what they are doing is not legal.

    Now that would be funny.

  30. May was excellent in the press conference, at least for her immediate electorate, and her announcement that an outer would be in charge of the new leaving department clearly the best way of having some wriggle room if/when it fails.

    She also sounded as though she’s up for a fi ght with the winning exiter, perhaps best called GoJo for now.

  31. COLIN

    The Social Democratic Party is surely the new name. Given the struggle for it’s soul It has to say what it isn’t as well as what it is doesn’t it?

    Do keep up at the back. It’s already in use (as I pointed out earlier in the thread):

    It’s also probably the name most likely to prevent any long-standing members joining. Though given the general ineptness of the plotters …

  32. Gove as PM? God help us all

  33. @ TOH

    Oh yes, Farage is good for a joke.

    Shirley Williams, a great communicator who backed the wrong horse politically, once remarked to him on a ‘Question Time’ in which she thoroughly got the better of him

    ‘Oh I’d accept an invitation for an evening at the golf club with you anytime Nigel, I’m sure it would be terribly fun. I’d never accept an invitation to go into government with you though, that would just be plain terrible.”

    Truly witty, and very true.

    As for Juncker – I hold no flame for him. He may be one of Europe’s most successful politicians – 18 years prime minister and Finance Minister of Luxembourg (six years Finance minister before) – but he effectively tried to make his country into a on shore tax haven, depleting the rest of Europe of resources and playing every card to his advantage. A joke in Europe? Perhaps, but a very successful player of the game too. Not too distant from Nigel in some ways.

    Yes. Selling now seems wise. I suspect the real turbulence may come for equities over the height of summer when volumes fall – it used to be the inexperienced traders getting in a tizz, now its the algorithms over-reacting to market shifts.

  34. Alex

    The public would go mad if the courts decided the referendum, even the bremainers would get their knickers in a twist. Unfortunately we voted out, the only way to correct it is to have a second referendum with a convincing IN vote. How we get to a second referendum is a mystery but I’m sure we will get there

  35. don’t rule out Liam Fox coming through the GoJo (I like that) muddle

  36. Given it’s current travails and a need to link with the past and people associate with what about;

    The Labouring Party!


  37. TOH: “So you don’t have a sense of humour”

    Oh, yes I do. I find this story very amusing (as well as a little sad):

    “I was on the London train from Oxford, where I gave lecture today. I phoned Yosefa to tell her that I made the train in time, speaking in Hebrew. This was a very short conversation, but apparently not short enough. The obvious Brexiter from across the aisle said in a loud voice: “In this country we speak English! Can’t you speak English, Sir?”
    I had to stop breathing for a second and then said to him, in the same tone of voice, with everyone around watching: “You know, Sir, I have a principle – I never take advice from racists, and I am not going to make you the exception!”. To my utter amazement, people around us clapped… the guy got up and walked away, red faced.”

    Maybe not a quick enough, cheap enough laugh for some. Ah well, à chacun son goût.

    So you don’t have a sense of humour, and cannot see what is toxic at the center of the EU. Fair enough I have and I can.

    Dhave id you also find Farage’s retreaded repetition of the 1939 NSDAP leader’s remarks to the Jewish people funny?

    Whether so or no, both were clear attempts to sabotage any remaining sympathy for the UK amongst the people who will be negotiating the deal which the UK gets from the EU. It was probably designed primarily to offend Germany who under Merkel have done much to atone for past sins.

    Though given the general ineptness of the plotters …


    Not as vigorous as Labour’s, if that is supposed to be a good thing.

  41. @ CambridgeRachel

    “A resignation once an hour until the leader steps down is part of the labour Constitution? I can’t remember the bennites doing that”

    Why would the constitution have anything to say on that? Surely whether or not to accept a shadow cabinet post is now a matter a personal conscience as they are (in the main) no longer elected posts.

    Presumably the Bennites didn’t resign their posts during the 1980s as the posts were elected.

    It’s notable that those with elected posts in the current shadow cabinet – Corbyn, Tom Watson, Lord Bassam of Brighton and Baroness Angela Smith (the last two being elected by the peers – in both senses of the word) – have not resigned. The two members of the House of Lords are, however, not attending shadow cabinet at present.


    I also find that story both amusing and sad but you clearly still don’t see the obvious to me, truth behind the amusing one liner. Assiduosity as I expected does, even though he and I disagree about Brexit.


    “Dhave id you also find Farage’s retreaded repetition of the 1939 NSDAP leader’s remarks to the Jewish people funny?”

    Not that bit paticularly, but it was accurate.

  43. Assiduosity

    Thanks, glad you see at least part of what I was getting at.
    Lovely story about Shirley Williams, a politician I respected although I disagreed with her politics.

    We agree about the markets going forward in the short term.

  44. Isn’t the disaster that has befallen Labour under Corbyn fully underlined by the fact that just when a Tory Prime Minister and Government has committed probably the biggest political blunder in my lifetime, and visited an utter calamity on the United Kingdom it purports to govern in the interests of all its citizens, it is Labour struggling with the aftermath and staring into the abyss?

    Can you imagine what a strong opposition, with a powerful and effective leader, would be doing with this crisis? A PM forced to resign, a vacuum at the heart of government and what looks like a parade of political pygmies squabbling over the poisoned chalice. Someone like Blair, Smith, Wilson, even Kinnock, would think that all their Christmases had arrived at once, wouldn’t they?

    Not so with Corbyn’s Labour and not only is it a tragedy for him, it is a much bigger one for the our country.

    As Blair said about the Tories when he passed the leadership over to Brown; if you can’t beat this lot then you don’t deserve to be in politics.

    Quite so, quite so. On both counts.

  45. Anthony must be a bit miffed at not having put Gove into his list of candidates, but then he wasn’t supposed to be standing. It’s worth remembering that he did come third with the public and Tory voters in a wider list:

    though very distantly with 5% of the public and 8% of Tories. Meanwhile the backstabbing continues. Here’s May wielding the stilleto (possibly in more than one sense):

    May says she has done this. She has sat around the table in Europe. And she delivered in Europe. Other people have delivered in Europe too. Like Boris Johnson. The last time he did a deal with the Germans, he came back with three nearly new water cannon.

    (from the Guardian liveblog)

    You get the impression that a lot of people are going to take a lot of revenge for years of Boris being Boris over the next few weeks. Buy shares in popcorn (even if you’re selling everything else).

  46. ALEC
    Just imagine the Brexiters, who campaigned for the restoration of British sovereignty and British justice, trying to explain that under British justice, what they are doing is not legal.
    Now that would be funny.

    It would indeed. I suspect that it will be found funniest by the many lawyers who will already be doing some preliminary fee assessment. Better still, if it involves A50 treaty obligations it might have to go to the ECJ, which would be hilarious.

  47. As expected mixed if not contradictory coverage of Nicola Sturgeons trip to Brussels in the Press.

    The pro Indy side portraying it as a warm welcome and taking the initiative, the far larger anti press calling it a stunt that has ended in a snub!

    They are of course both right!

    The post Indyref SNP position was clear;

    You need a good reason for another referendum.

    You need to be sure of winning it by having “Yes” well ahead in the polls for a sustained period (60%+ for two years).

    You need to win over the 10% in the middle who aren’t committed one way or another.

    With this in mind the current focus is on swaying that middle 10-15% who could go either way and will decide it and the first step is to convince hem that it is right to have it.

    The purpose of SNP talk of not given consent to leaving the EU isn’t to stop westminster taking us out against our will but to make it do it. We withheld consent not to prevent it but to make Westminster overrule the democratically elected Scottish Parliament representing the wishes of the Scottish Parliament.

    Equally Tea and Sympathy in Brussels, but as Kennedy said of Canada during the Cuban Crisis, “All possible Assistance Short of Actual Help!”, suits the necessary narrative as well.

    They are our friends and sincerely want to help, but their hands are tied, so we need to take matters into our own.

    Yes supporters will back Indy2 absolutely any time, even worryingly if we can’t win, No supporters will oppose it every time especially if yes can win, but the crucial ones in the middle need a good reason and it is better for the SNP if it is forced on us by someone else.

    Everything happening now is building the case for an Indy2 reluctantly forced upon us after everything else had failed and to succeed we need it to be seen as legitimate choice in the eyes of the neutrals who can be swing to the Yes side.

    Time scale, two years… round about the time that the A50 deadline runs out, after two to three more years of the Tories, two more years to see what changes come about in the EU and how the Euro and migrant situations have developed and what terms the EU if offering the UK.

    Crucially before the UK actually leaves to allow Scotland to effectively remain and ….

    Last time Yes lost by about 360k votes, so we need about 180k more to win, which as it happens is roughly the number of EU citizens eligible to vote in the last Scottish Referendum.

    As I’ve said before about Scotland and the SNP, it might not be the greatest Plan….But at least we have a Plan!


  48. Funny that the Corbyn thinks that his shadow cabinet should “follow the rules” rather than withdraw their labour.

    He then replaces them with scabs.


  49. @Somerjohn – Well I think your joke and presence of mind were both great.

  50. COLIN

    As an interested outsider I think May’s opening statements have been very sound politics. Will be watching what else she says during the campaigning with interest.

    The Boris/Gove fall out is interesting would like to understand the tipping point.

1 2 3 4 33