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. Hawthorn,

    Not really they didn’t go on strike they handed in their notice, although doubtless they could claim constructive (or indeed destructive) dismissal.

    Oddly enough it would probably have been more effective post Benn if they had got him to fire them one by one, making it look like he was both losing control and the plot,

    That way they might have better isolated him, got more sympathy and not looked so much like plotters.

  2. In much the same way that militant were never forgiven for making labour unelectable I doubt that this crop of labour MPs will be forgiven. That they had problems with corbyn is understood but the timing was catastrophic and the manner in which it was done was despicable. A leadership challenge like Benn made against kinnock would have been sensible, this is just madness. Even if a new leader is elected, the parliamentary labour party has shown itself to be unsuited to govt and more importantly for negotiations with the EU

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

    Fair point, though I think he’ll struggle to beat GoJo, having neither the charisma of one nor the intelligence of the other.

  4. Just when we thought Labour couldn’t be beaten….

    “The Stampede For Gove”

    Dominic Raab, an insubstantial politician if ever there was one, is on Sky declaring his unswerving backing for Michael Gove… but has a full page article in The Sun backing Boris Johnson.

    ‘Project Farce’ suddenly acquires a new meaning.

    All those years of laughing at the pantomimic qualities of Italian politics – well it seems as if commedia dell’arte is all the rage on the Westminster stage right now.

  5. May saying Now isn’t the time for an election! Oops!

    Very statesman (women) like and Prime-ministerial, but with the only credible alternative Government in political disarray and having split and even antagonised it’s own supporters not very good politics..

    Above all the Tory Party is about winning power and being the nasty party to do it is in it’s blood.

    I can’t see the Tories going for John Major in a dress!


  6. Theresa May is the obvious candidate for sensible people to prefer. She has already abandoned the headbanger position of withdrawing from the ECHR for example.

    The problem is that the Murdoch press and Daily Mail are going to thrash her during the campaign, and if she wins they will thrash her even more. Perhaps she will activate Leveson II in response? She has the guts to stand up to them I think.

    If she puts the country before party in that way, she would be a truly great PM.

    Michael Gove is just a right wing version of Jeremy Corbyn.

    So who thinks the Tories have great prospects now?

  7. Peter

    Maybe May like the PLP doesn’t believe that anyone can beat Jez. The PLP still haven’t put up a candidate and now Theresa is running scared as well

    i think that PLP will put up one candidate; if they (we) lose to Corbyn I would expect most PLP members to form a new IPLP and then join with Lib Dems


    They were going on strike in order to get a new leader.

    Perhaps a better analogy would be French workers taking the boss hostage.


    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.

    We know there is certainly one in the field from YouGov – Muddy Waters in the last thread said:

    There is actually some polling on Corbyn from YouGov today (f/w 26-27 Jun, so Sun-Mon):
    I did this poll. There were a lot of other questions which aren’t in the table, including: doing well/badly; a series aimed at Labour members asking a series of head-to-head preferences between Corbyn and likely challengers; and questions about handling of the referendum campaign.

    This may be related to an ‘internal’ poll done for the Labour Party as reported in the Guardian:

    though typically spun by the Guardian in as bad a way as possible, the figures that are there aren’t surprising (and I suspect the Tory equivalents far worse). Tables would be nice though.

    It’s worth pointing out that a survey is often carried out for multiple clients. For example the headline survey on this thread of Conservative members also had questions on airport expansion:

    though personally if I see any more competing lobbying from Gatwick/Heathrow, I happily vote for every airport in SE England to be closed, just to make them shut up.


    “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.”

    Indeed. This is a good strategy as it forces the hand of Westminster to perform an overrule, which would visibly demonstrate the apparent central government contempt for the will of the Scottish parliament. This will help Sturgeon in terms of PR, though it will not stop Brexit.

    I’m not convinced that there is sufficient discontent in Scotland to vote for independence. I don’t think there will ever be 60% in favour, so I am less of the idea that independence is on the cards in the foreseeable future. If Westminster fail to agree a good deal with the EU this may change, but if a EEA type deal is worked out it’s likely that the issue will slowly die away.

  12. I thought Angela Eagle was running against Corbyn?

  13. Barbazenzero – my thinking is that Gove and Johnson supporters may not transfer their votes, whoever drops out first, to the other.

    Fox will be telling both groups that only he can stop Boris/Gove being he leaver in the final ballot.

    Leadsome no chance imo

    Hard to see Crabb stopping May being the ‘Remainer’ on the ballot.

    If May is certain to get in the final 2, perhaps some of her supporters will vote whoever they think the weakest ‘leave’ opponent will be in the final round to get them on the ballot?

  14. Interesting that the Guardian are reporting a voodoo poll they have conducted of Labour members, although to be fair to them, they do state that the results are not scientific and the responses were disporportionately from Corbyn supporters.

    The ‘poll’ recieved 4000 responses, self selecting, with 88% Labour members and 81% Corbyn voters in 2015, so 92% Corbyn instead of the 60% he actually got.

    Of these, 95% said they would vote for him again. This is the bit that is quite interesting. Whiloe the Guardian are correct in that we can’t draw anything from this, even in this self selecting survey of predominantly Corbyn supporters, he seems to have lost 5% support. This may be significant, if it applies across the board.

  15. I see Liam Fox has thrown his hat into the ring.

    The Tory version of Seamus Milne. No chance!

  16. TOH: “you clearly still don’t see the obvious to me, truth behind the amusing one liner. ”

    No I don’t. In that ‘joke’, Farage is claiming superior democratic legitimacy on the strength of his election to the European parliament, while discounting Juncker’s democratic legitimacy derived from a vote of that same parliament. That’s exactly the same as claiming the UK PM has no legitimacy because the electorate never voted directly for him. Where’s the joke in that?

  17. Hawthorn,

    True, but at least the french tied him up and locked the door. This bunch seem to have locked themselves in his office with him outside!


    There won’t be 60% for Independence that’s not the target, the target is 51%, but you want consistent support above that before you call it!

    An EEA type deal won’t work because it doesn’t give the either of the two Brexiteer factions what they want. EEA includes free movement and accepting Brussels rules for access to the free market.

    The Farage side are opposed to free Movement and the Bors side don’t want Brussels bureaucracy. EEA gives both.

    The first time the EU makes a change that Britain doesn’t like but EEA membership dictates it will be Brexiref2!

    Like I said, at least we have a Plan!


  18. Since Juncker is evidently fair game for jokes and insults from the people who defend the “politeness” of this forum most strongly, I thought I would share the funniest thing I heard in the generally highly unamusing referendum campaign.

    It was on the R4 News quiz I think.. Cant recall who told it..

    “You know we British treat EU migrants really badly… We invite them over and then we make them do all the awful jobs we British aren’t prepared to do….

    That is why Nigel Farage’s wife is German!”

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

    Thanks, but I should have made clearer that I was only retelling the story. It was actually a guy called Haim Bresheeth and I have to confess I just found it by googling Brexit jokes, which led me to his Facebook page:

  20. Alex

    If you extrapolate that drop in support then corbyn would get 57% in a leadership election this time round rather than the 60% he got last time. Of course that was in a 5 person field, at the moment there is a field of one, until or unless Angela Eagle steps up.

    Assuming that Angela does step up then I expect Burnham to stand as a unity candidate. Although I do wonder if he’s planned the whole thing I’m minded to vote for Andy as the best way of moving forward, depending on his platform


    Save your keyboard.

    TOH instinctively believes himself to be right and his musing to have portent, but he never provides and is probably incapable of providing any solid justification for his positions.

    He takes an emotional position on everything and then posts it in terms of his all knowing worldly wisdom.

    He makes allegations with certainty about the rot at the heart of the EU, not because he can prove it or illustrate it but because he believes it and he believes it because he wants to!

    By all means engage in the arguments, you can disagree with me if you like, but you are far better doing it with someone who will actually engage with you in a meaningful way rather than just pontificate.


    I can’t see the Tories going for John Major in a dress!

    Not like you to be sexist, and I think you’re wrong that she has no personality.

    Re your previous post, with 4 polls in the past week I think a Saltired post will be coming along soon now, but your “As expected mixed if not contradictory coverage of Nicola Sturgeons trip to Brussels in the Press” reminds me that after yesterday I need to apologise to some here….

    Although I would hope that people check their sources before
    commenting, I note that the untruth that “independent Scotland would have to joint the Euro” was on virtually every BBC and Sky news bulletin throughout yesterday. If they are so economical with the truth then it is unsurprising that some people here believe it to be true, and I apologise to anyone I have responded to who innocently believed those two news sources.

  23. Ah, when thieves fall out….Johnson doesn’t stand.

  24. BTW on the subject of Farage I note he has only ever worked as a commodities trader!

    So much more “proper jobs” then :)

  25. Been thinking about the name thing, and Social Democratic Party or variants doesn’t really cut it. Obviously to those out on the right, Blair seems not that far short of Socialism; even the quite neoliberal seems ravingly socialist to some.

    The obvious solution is to split the difference and call it the Social Neolib Party, or SNP for short, bonus being they might recover some votes from any unwary Scots peeps!!

  26. sorry “so much for” not “so much more”!

  27. I notice that Theresa May gave a clear notice that she has abandoned her earlier plans to remove the UK from ECHR.

    This was (and is) a major element of concern for people like me and I suspect Conservative Europhiles like Dominic Grieve.

    Whilst she is talking very tough on ‘Brexit means Brexit’ there are clear signals being send to the other wing of the party too.

    No cake dance this, but it’s easy to see why she has been installed as the bookies favourites (though of course, they have been known to be wrong, ahem).

    Perhaps a better analogy would be French workers taking the boss hostage.

  29. Boris sounds like a corbynite, all that guff about social justice

  30. Johnson has just pulled out! Astonishing.

  31. This is about as surprising as the point where Sonny Corleone slumps to the floor after being riddled with bullets.

  32. Peter Cairns: “By all means engage in the arguments, you can disagree with me if you like, but you are far better doing it with someone who will actually engage with you in a meaningful way rather than just pontificate.”

    You’re absolutely right, of course. But I think there’s something in all of us that wants to challenge unsubstantiated assertion. Or should be – of course, there are plenty of people who have built a career on not rocking the boat, and plenty like me who have probably spoken out when they should have kept quiet. A fundamental divide amongst politicians too, I guess.

  33. Clearly accepting the polls showing he had little chance – coming second or even third would appeal to Boris’s Churchillian sized ego

  34. Wow, no Boris. This has really got interesting.

    I think May has got it in the bag, really. Although she’s not the most popular of candidates, I don’t think anyone could really raise a head of steam for a “Stop Theresa” campaign.

    Having so many candidates of course raises the possibility of upsets in the number 2 slot on the ballot, as obvious candidates might get pipped by a vote or two by outsiders.

    May vs Leadsom would be an interesting endgame. All Women Shortlist for the Tory leadership, anyone?

    I don’t think Gove will be in the final two. He’s done the Brutus thing and will probably be punished for it. Plus I think he’s probably the only one of them who’d lose to Corbyn in a GE.

    Liam Fox odds must be shortening, although I think his lobby-group issues make him a bit of a holed ship.

  35. You must admit that plan to put LSD in the Westminster water supply is going splendidly.


    I don’t think I was being sexist as such.

    My point was that by portraying herself as the safe pair of hands and not a showy politician she was setting herself up to be seen like John Major or IDS “the quiet man” and that’s not what the Tory party wants or indeed needs.

    You could take the view that she has the track record of achievement to lead, but against Boris that’s kind of Hillary v the Donald.

    In a way that might be like saying That John Reid would have been a better choice that gordon brown to succeed Blair (I am pretty sure he would have and might well have beaten Cameron).

    I think May is probably a better politician and would be a better PM than Boris, but I think Tory Party members look at Labour and see blood in the water and Boris is a Shark, while May is more a whale, solid, impressive but not a killer

    As to the other contenders, Crabbs a crab, Goves and ell and fox is a flounder…

    There I’ve probably upset everyone now, or worst still started a whole new thread on people correlating senior politicians with fish!


    Johnson has just pulled out! Astonishing.

    Perhaps he’s in to bondage and has just signed up to be May’s exit SoS.

  38. I think this makes Crabb a better bet – he is probably the most charismatic and personable of those left, though his inexperience may tell against him

  39. Having ‘stabbed Boris in the Front’ Gove surely can’t win.

    Then again. surely, there are no ‘surelies’ anymore.

    Earlier I compared the current political scene with pantomime, Greek tragedy would have been more appropriate.

    The body count is rising… yet Tiresias Corbyn stands.

  40. Easy win for Gove, i reckon.

  41. Boris is probably going to mount a challenge against Corbyn…it will only cost him £3!


  42. Johnson supports now moving behind May apparently

  43. @JAIMIE

    You’re joking, right? Easy win for May.

  44. @BARDIN1

    Crabb is a nonentity. It’s between Gove and May, and I believe May will win.

  45. “All those years of laughing at the pantomimic qualities of Italian politics”

    Who would have thought a corrupt anti-democratic organization like the EU would select for politicians like this.

  46. Andrea Leasom came third in the YouGov poll of members, though a very distant one with 7% (11% of Leave voters). It’s very possible that Boris fans will switch to her rather than someone seen as back-stabbing their hero[1]. Of course her problem will be getting through the elimination ballot rounds of the MPs.

    [1] As someone tweeted: Gove will tear us apart. Again.

  47. May is favourite I think.

    Corbyn support is slipping I think.
    He is leading a very controversial demo v Israel soon, according to Twitter

  48. May is favourite I think.

    Corbyn support is slipping I think.
    He is leading a very controversial demo v Israel soon, according to Twitter

  49. Sounds like Boris is the latest victim of Bregret. Gambled with the future of the country then bottled out when it came to clearing up the mess he helped make.

    My point was that by portraying herself as the safe pair of hands and not a showy politician she was setting herself up to be seen like John Major or IDS “the quiet man” and that’s not what the Tory party wants or indeed needs.

    Fair enough. I disagree but as neither of us has a dog nor a b!tch in this fight, what we think is irrelevant. A pity that Boris is not standing, though. Him as PM would be a huge boon to indyref2.

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