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. I just think Davidson recognises that the best way to lose an Indyref2 would be to try and stop one from happening.

    I don’t necessarily think she’s changed her mind, as it happens. It’s possible to be against holding a second referendum, but also not try to stop it.

  2. ToH: “I did indeed want deeper and quicker cuts. ”

    But you’re happy with an extra £20bn of borrowing as a consequence of Brexit?

  3. France Island 4 0 after 45 minutes

    It can get even more embarassing.

  4. Barbazenzero

    Yes. She was pressed by Gordon Brewer on the matter.

    I think it’s going to be a genuinely difficult choice for many pro-EU Brits in Scotland.

    Most people have multiple identities, and it’s tough to have to choose which one(s) to give primacy to, when it’s a forced choice.

  5. @Neil A

    Davidson’s problem is that her manifesto for the election in May said that the Tories would oppose a second independence referendum whatever the outcome of the EU referendum and that a vote for them was the only way to say no to a second referendum. She has effectively reneged on that and it remains to be seen in the polling whether her ultra Unionist collection of voters will stick with her.

  6. @thoughtful
    Martin Schulz has been calling for some time for the Commission to be chosen from the European Parliament and to be fully answerable to it (the EP can already sack the Commission as a whole).

    The call for a second chamber to represent the Member States is new (to me at least). How far is this intended to reduce the power of the Council of the EU, I wonder.

  7. Davidson`s new position on the referendum is the only possible sensible one, given the 62/38 vote.

    I personally do not want the UK union to break, but it is a foolish denial of democracy to ignore so big a majority.

    Likewise any UK PM who does not negotiate with the EU only for England and Wales will precipitate great turmoil within the present UK. The Scottish Parliament and the SNP have every right to veto a whole-UK exit.

    I think it’s going to be a genuinely difficult choice for many pro-EU Brits in Scotland.

    Thanks for the info and I agree 100%. I didn’t think that S Lab could get much more divided than they are, but the BBC article also highlights that I was being optimistic on their behalf.

    It’s also noticeable that the SLDs no longer get mentioned in these reports because the Greens came 4th ahead of them. I suppose it was deemed logical at PQ to have only 2 negative arguments instead of needing 2 positive vs 3 negative, with even the SLD a bit unreliable wrt negative soundbites nowadays.

  9. Anyone interested in a fairly credible voodoo poll?

    Air industry website is running a poll on its news pages. What do you expect the impact of Brexit to be on the UK aerospace industry? Current voting is:

    Catastrophic 48.51% (455 votes)
    No-one will notice 26.87% (252 votes)
    Great news for Britain 24.62% (231 votes)

    Something for everyone there. But that 48% for catastrophic from industry professionals might give pause for thought.


    Nothing that they do to reform EU institutions will ever persuade the anti-EU bandwagon in this country. You cannot persuade fanatics, you can only fight them.

  11. Political Editor of the English Sun tweeting

    Senior Tory source points out a constitutional problem with Crabb’s leadership bid: “As a Welsh MP, he can’t vote for English-only laws”.

    Whether that’s real, or an invention doesn’t greatly matter.

    The constitutional concept, that only an MP from an English constituency can be the UK PM, has moved beyond the speculation of random posters in social media.

  12. Glad to see that at least some laywers have bigger dangly bits than our own timid, meek politicians:

    They are absolutely right – parliament will need to decide, not the PM. And this will give the opportunity to any pro-remain MPs with enough courage (sadly not many) to express their displeasure at this situation.

  13. I don’t think it’s really a constitutional problem.

    He can still be in charge of implementing them, even if he doesn’t vote on them.


    I wonder just how many people who answered the questions are fully cognisant of the complexities of this industry.

    Airbus is a global business with several plants outside the EU including China and the USA, there is no reason to expect that Brexit will cause any real material changes.

    Rolls Royce is also a global player and it is the airlines which specify whose engines are fitted to the aircraft they order, again there’s no reason why Brexit should affect them.

    As for ESA, we hardly have much commitment to begin with.

    The majority view of nothing will change / great news is probably the people in the know, and the rest are the people who aren’t !

  15. Thanks for that thoughtful reply, Thoughtful.
    Pleased to hear that you know more about the aerospace industry than those who work in it. I expect that’s true of all industries – time will tell.

  16. Neil A

    I presume you are referring to Crabb?

    Of course, it isn’t an actual constitutional problem. It’s a tactic against Crabb from a “senior Tory” (or the English Sun).

    It’s the political implications of that perception being put into the public domain, which might resonate with rising English nationalism, that is interesting.


    LOL you are funny ! How do you know which industry I work in ?

    To be brutally honest there are plenty of people working for large companies who haven’t got a clue how they are structured, and all a poll like this does is attract the worried to voice their concerns.

  18. @Guymonde:

    In the end it doesn’t matter what Thoughtful thinks, though. The poll quite clearly shows that no change + good news is a majority and catastrophic consequences is not. Although I might add it’s a majority even slimmer than the one with which we are assuming mandate for leaving the EU with!

  19. In that aerospace poll the question seemed a little unsubtle. For instance what should you answer if you think things will just get a bit worse? As Somerjohn said, it’s a voodoo poll.

  20. ROBIN

    I don’t give any weight to the conspiracy theorists who are putting it down to Chilcott – why on earth does it matter whether Corbyn condemns Blair as leader or from the back benches? I think they were simply spooked by the possibility of an autumn election, and angered by Corbyn’s betrayal of the Remain campaign.

    I agree about the Chilcott Report, if only because the purpose of such things is for a ‘safe pair of hands’ to strip the evidence of any significance and spread the blame as lightly and wide as possible. But the other reasons can’t be true because we know the plot was started well before the result of the Referendum was known and an Autumn election not likely.

    It’s true that the excuse was always going to be that Corbyn was unenthusiastic about campaigning, but that hardly counts as a ‘betrayal’ and in any case it wasn’t even true. The real crime of the Corbyn team in the Referendum campaign seems to have been to not do as they were told by the Labour apparatchiks. Since that plan seems to have consisted of repeating all the mistakes that Scottish Labour made during Indyref1 – down to lots of photo-ops with the Tories, it’s fairly understandable that Corbyn went off and did his own thing.

    The tragedy is that Corbyn’s ‘75% in favour’ view of the EU would probably have resonated more with voters and perhaps won more to remaining, altering the result of the referendum. It might also have started a debate on what changes the EU needed. But the ‘wisdom’ of the Westminster Bubble led to another Project Fear and failure. Which of course must be someone else’s fault because the Bubble is never wrong as all their friends in the media tell them.

    The real betrayal that went on here was that, when the Referendum went for Leave, the plotters went ahead with their plots because they thought their short-term interests were more important than the future of the Party or the country.

  21. @Tancred –


    Nothing that they do to reform EU institutions will ever persuade the anti-EU bandwagon in this country. You cannot persuade fanatics, you can only fight them.”

    Schultz is really a bit of a fanatic himself, if we’re being honest.

    The idea is clear, which is that Schultz and JC van Junckers want a European government – everything that the UK rebels against – and as described by the EU’s founding fathers, are seeking to forward their ambitions at times of crisis.

    There is an almighty power struggle going on within the EU, with the single European state integrationists well embedded in the Commission and Parliament, facing the bulk of the national leaders in the Council. Germany holds the ring, and currently wants to see a return to the idea of cooperative nation states.

    If the Schultz/Junckers axis wins, then that’s the end of the EU. Nations will peel away, as their high minded but fundamentally flawed concept does not carry popular support.

    These are the real fanatics.

  22. Actually, YouTube has many Corbyn campaign speeches. Some are very good, some are less so, but I haven’t seen a bad one (spending time after the match …). The oddity is that I tried to find these on BBC and ITV – they appear not to have them. Not a conspiracy, just how things are done.


    Anyway, BAe asked one of their NW suppliers if they were willing to move their manufacturing to Ireland by March 2018 (only manufacturing).

  23. Laszlo

    I wonder if you have seen this, I don’t know how much credence to give it, nowadays you have to FactCheck everything carefully. But its not in a national newspaper so its probably true

  24. The Chilcot theory holds water because the timing of the coup makes no sense.

    When UK crashed out of the ERM Labour were able to pin economic incompetence on the Tories probably until the 2008 crash. This was an opportunity to tar the Tories as being irresponsible, reckless & to have abdicated their duty. This is what Sturgeon is firmly asserting every opportunity. But instead UK Labour has blamed Corbyn for the referendum loss. They are insane 64% of Labour voters voted Remain as opposed to 42% of Tories, it was Cameron that didn’t get his vote out not Corbyn, but for purposes of infighting Corbyn is being blamed.

    So my conclusion is that Chilcot is the reason for the timing. My guess is there is some pretty damning stuff in the report (remember Blair has seen it) but the PR company allegedly involved in the coup had a damage limitation strategy which Corbyn will not follow. We will find out on Wednesday, but if Corbyn & Alex Salmond team up to call for Blair’s head, then I imagine the Blairites fury will have no bounds.

  25. Couper

    I agree that the response to Chilcott will be one of the motivations for the current civil war in the Labour Party.The timing of the report has been known for a long time.

    But there’s also the antagonism between supporters of Israel and Palestine (why that should obsess so many in Labour is beyond me).

    Then there’s the gulf between the political/philosophical stances within what is supposed to be a party with some common principles.

    The personal hatreds and ambition will also play a part (as they always do).

    “Omnishambles” seems an appropriate description.

  26. As of two days after the vote for a new government in Australia, they do not have one and one official at the Australian Electoral Commission has stated it may take a month to sort out:

    Labour now 67 seats
    Liberal/National Coalition 65
    Green 1
    Xenephon Team 1
    Independents 2

    Undetermined 13:

    Liberals lead Labour 7

    Labour lead Liberals 5

    Xenephon lead Liberals 1

    If those leads remain to final count

    Liberal National Coalition 72

    Labour 72

    Cross bench 6

    I also think if the English do not halt racist attacks and xenephobic comments in check countries like Australia will not want to have close ties. See, for example, the discussion on Australian Broadcasting Corporations, The Drum:

  27. @ Roger Mexico

    ‘The real betrayal that went on here was that, when the Referendum went for Leave, the plotters went ahead with their plots because they thought their short-term interests were more important than the future of the Party or the country.’


  28. There’s been a lot of talk about buyer’s remorse over the Referendum result. But a more interesting question is whether voters would already do differently. Hidden away in the Opinium poll:

    is that very question; If another referendum were held on whether the United Kingdom should remain a member of the European Union or leave the European Union, how would you vote?:

    Remain 48%

    Leave 42%

    Don’t know 7%

    Prefer not to say 2%

    This sample has been weighted to the actual result, so that shows movement. Part of this comes from those who didn’t vote giving a preference (they split 48% / 17% / 24% /12%), but while 94% of Remain stay the same only 86% of Leave do (6% moving to remain). Even ignoring the WNVs and DKs this means that the result of the referendum would be reversed with Remain 51.7% (this wouldn’t be altered by those who refused either).

    Opinium also did ask Since voting Remain/Leave, do you feel that you made the right decision[1]. Again Remain seem surest of themselves:

    Yes – completely: Remain 87%; Leave 65%

    Yes – mostly: Remain 10%; Leave 28%

    No – not really: Remain 2%; Leave 5%

    No – not at all: Remain 1%; Leave 2%

    It does look like the decision has already swung the other way after a week – but then it was a narrow decision to start with

    [1] Page 12ff. From the order in the tables it looks as if ‘second vote’ question was asked nearly at the end and so could be slanted by the numerous questions between. The ‘right decision’ question was asked at the start though.was

  29. My guess about the timing of the LP coup is that they received advice from someone with a background in psychology and hypnotherapy.

    The exhaustion after the EUref campaign, coupled with the incongruousness and shock of the Benn sacking would be expected to increase the susceptibility of MPs not-in-the-know to agree to any suggestion by a convinced and confident protagonist(s).

    I think that the inability of most ordinary MPs to justify their behaviour adequately is also very suggestive of being pulled into a group think ..

  30. Syzygy

    “My guess about the timing of the LP coup is that they received advice from someone with a background in psychology and hypnotherapy.”

    Or just a media-savvy PR company?

  31. Roger Mexico

    It would be interesting if we could see the regional breakdown of those that might change their minds, but that would require a very large sample.

    The result I expected and have expected from the very beginning was a narrow vote to stay in with only the votes in Scotland keeping england in. A reverse of what we got. I expected that to lead to the breakup of the EU as the brexit folk turned their ire on the scots and engineered a hostile atmosphere in govt eventually leading to a second Indy vote. I suppose it was my nightmare scenario and I’m quite glad it didn’t happen.

    But really its the English vote that counts, its the English that have to change their minds. In my view its the English that are now driving the breakup of the UK, exit from Europe is more important that preserving the Union, if any ‘minor’ part of the UK prevents that ambition there will be hell to pay.

  32. cambridgerachel

    “if any ‘minor’ part of the UK prevents that ambition there will be hell to pay.”

    Oh, come on! London isn’t THAT minor.

  33. The Opinium poll (f/w 28-30 Jun) also contain VI:

    Con 34% (-) [34]

    Lab 29% (-1) [30]

    Lib Dem 7% (+1) [6]

    UKIP 17% (-2) [18]

    SNP 6% (-) [6]

    PC 1% (-) [1]

    Green 4% (-) [4]

    Other 1% (-) [1]

    Changes are to equivalent VI (20-22 Jun). [] are the ratings from a month ago. Fascinatingly the entire referendum campaign seems to have very little effect, nor have the various goings-on within the Parties.

    These are the 10/10 certain to vote people which is probably too strict a filter – implying a turnout of only 59%. As usual the All respondent figures narrow the Con-Lab gap.

  34. Can we have polling of labour MPs to see if any of them are wavering in their determination to depose corbyn :D

    Im still waiting and hoping for a poll about public attitudes to the weeks political events, most people I know are disgusted but that’s my own little bubble and might not be representative

  35. cambridgerachel

    Seriously, I’m not sure what you mean. I haven’t seen anything from Northern Ireland or Scotland that wants to overturn the democratic wish of those in E&W.

    Most regret their decision, but you guys have to deal with the consequences of your decisions.

    Unfortunately, so do we – but peoples are entitled to take their own decisions, even though they may adversely affect others.

  36. Oldnat

    Depends how far away from London you are

  37. Oldnat

    Im talking about an ‘England First’ mentality if I might borrow a little from the orange menace

  38. @ Oldnat

    ‘Or just a media-savvy PR company?’

    Do you mean Portland or just in general?

    Obviously PR companies employ many with a background in psychology and hypnotherapy. I’m sure you know that Edward Bernays was Freud’s nephew and that he developed PR by combining psychoanalytic and crowd psychology research.

    I also read that the Leave campaign employed Paul McKenna to advise on their advertising materials.

    However, I was suggesting that the ‘trauma’ experienced by exhausted non-inner circle MPs was potentially exploited as a means to remove Jeremy Corbyn.

    Len McClusky said on Marr today:

    “I’ll be honest: I’m amazed that some of the MPs have fallen into a trap. I think they’ve been seduced by sinister forces.’

  39. cambridgerachel

    Sorry. I’m still a little confused as to your meaning.

    What combination of MPs from outwith England would want to (or could) overturn the English vote?

  40. Syzygy

    “I’m sure you know”

    Nope, but thanks for the information.

    Portland was certainly a possibility, from what I had read.

    Though, I have to admit that I knew virtually nothing about these organisations until inyref1, when they created “grassroots” organisations with neither grass nor roots, but which their compliant media pals were happy to present their guff as “facts”.

    Hypnotherapy only works with willing clients -and boy! are the media willing!

  41. Oldnat

    I mean a situation where the English vote brexit in the ref, but the overall result is bremain because of the votes in Scotland. If there was a second ref, bremain would need to win in England and as we know england voted heavily brexit. English brexit politicians would go bananas if the remain vote in Scotland kept england in and their supporters would take up the cry. First objective would be to tear up the bartlett fomula

  42. @ Oldnat

    ‘Hypnotherapy only works with willing clients -and boy! are the media willing!’

    Willing clients and people who are in shock.

  43. cambridgerachel

    Thanks. I hadn’t realised you were talking about some putative 2nd EUref.

    While I’m not going to smile(too much) about your “bartlett formula”, since I’m a West Wing fan too, you may want to note that Lab’s new SoS for Scotland wants to get rid of Barnett anyway.

  44. Syzygy

    “Willing clients and people who are in shock.”

    Thanks – though I think it’s also probably true that those in shock are vulnerable to lots of other forms of manipulation.

    It’s relatively easy to exploit the vulnerable – as criminals and unscrupulous politicians have known for a long time, without the need for psychological theories to explain it.

  45. Oldnat

    I knew I’d got it wrong but I also knew you would enjoy correcting me

  46. cambridgerachel

    It’s always enjoyable to be reminded of the West Wing!

    No comment on your shadow SoS for Scotland though?

  47. Oldnat

    Im having trouble keeping up with the changes, I’ll do my research and get back to you

    Btw I prefer house of cards

  48. cambridgerachel

    The original British House of Cards series was excellent.

    The US version was OK in the first couple of series, but didn’t hold my interest thereafter.

  49. Oldnat

    Kevin Spacey!

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