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. Oldnat

    Yes that doesn’t look good, however I notice that he managed to double his majority in the 2010 election which is quite impressive in the middle of a meltdown for labour nationally. I presume that his good performance was because of his hard work for his constituents because it certainly wasn’t because of his looks. We can only hope that he will bring the same dedication to his new job and gain the confidence of the Scottish people.

    This politician speak is quite easy really!

  2. I know its not the done thing but corbyn could have invited a SNP MP to fill that role, I would have been tempted to do that

  3. ADGE3

    Your post to Andy was incorrect. I made it clear in my post that I regreted using the phrase “I can’t be bothered” to others and I did clearly say why I posted as I do. It seems you do not like me, my opinions and the way I post. That’s fine, I have no problems with that. As I have said to others, ignore my posts if you don’t like them. However I suggest that getting personal is impolite. It doesn’t bother me much but it lowers the tone of this site which is generally very good.

  4. Good Morning all from a sunny Bournemouth East and looking forward to another quiet week in UK Politics, wondering where David Cameron is.

  5. And more to the point, what is he doing to occupy his time, now that ‘government business’ seems to have ground to a halt?

  6. Chris – I am reminded of the old joke along the lines of many people come in to politics with the ultimate aim of getting the dream job of PM but David Cameron’s dream job is ex-PM.

  7. Fantastic to see Boris blaming the lack of a government plan for a Leave vote for ‘hysteria’. Elsewhere, Labour have gone a little quiet, for a change, so the spotlight falls once more on some very toxic personal rampages going on inside Tory ranks.

    I suspect there may be a role soon for the unions in saving Labour hides. YG published a poll of Unite members last week which was really quite poor for Corbyn, and while the unions do seem to have made supportive noises for the leader, they haven’t been categorical.

    I don’t really know, but I suspect the influence of Momentum on the unions is limited, and if the unions can have some assurances about the future direction of policy they may well be keen to broker some kind of deal. They won’t want to see Labour disintegrate or be overwhelmed at the next GE.

    The Corybnistas are already using his age as a means to protect him, and I suspect that there is a deal to be brokered by someone powerful enough to force the two sides to talk, whereby Corbyn gets more time in post, but stands down in a year or so, citing age/health/need to spend more time with his accolytes etc, in return for some policy commitments or some such. With an early election now appearing to recede, this option has some merit for Labour.

    Prescott seems to have maintained some level of dignity in this, while Burnham has maintained a total silence, as far as I can tell. I suspect these are the kinds of peole working behind the scenes, and I wonder whether Burnham will be the critical individual.

  8. Bit of an eye-catching headline in Telegraph today: “Boris demands post-Brexit plan”.

    Johnson is basically admitting he never had a plan for a Leave victory, is blaming the leader of Remain for this, and says that public opposition to Brexit is nothing to do with the EU (cf. his previous column where he said that public support for Brexit is nothing to do with immigration).

    It seems Boris is unable to reconcile his stated views with the real world any more, because it would mean having to take responsibility for his actions.

    Johnson is basically admitting he never had a plan for a Leave victory, is blaming the leader of Remain for this, and says that public opposition to Brexit is nothing to do with the EU (cf. his previous column where he said that public support for Brexit is nothing to do with immigration).

    Quite so, and it does give Gove a passable excuse for his brutality. A pity that Gove doesn’t seem to have a plan either, though. Perhaps things will become clearer when Leadsom unveils her plan.

  10. OLD

    “The original British House of Cards series was excellent.”

    Yes, and what a wonderful cast.

  11. The stories about Corbyn refusing to meet MPs & his own Deputy face to face ( or allowing their access to him to be refused) ,contrasted with his enthusiasm for a platform & a mic at Momentum staged rallies, begin to suggest a man who has a very closed mind & who is uncomfortable with discussion & compromise.

    This sits precariously with his oft repeated devotion to “open & honest politics & democracy”.

    I wonder if those words have a different meaning for him than for most of us? One is reminded of Orwell’s Newspeak, in which synonyms & antonyms are removed to eliminate all shades of meaning from language,

    “The original British House of Cards series was excellent.”

    Agreed. My experience of the US version was much the same as OLDNAT’s though. Good quality torrents of all 3 BBC series are widely available on the web.

  13. Alec

    re Boris and his comment on hysteria. To be clear what he actually said was:-

    The feelings being manifested outside my house are shared by the large numbers of people – 30,000, they say – who at the weekend came together in Trafalgar Square to hear pro-EU speeches by Sir Bob Geldof. There is, among a section of the population, a kind of hysteria, a contagious mourning of the kind that I remember in 1997 after the death of the Princess of Wales. It is not about the EU, of course; or not solely. A great many of these protesters – like dear old Geldof – are in a state of some confusion about the EU and what it does.

    Many would agree with that.


    Your post to me overnight. To answer your question, I don’t have strong feelings one way or the other for now. For people like me the priority is BREXIT. We expect the government to do what is necessary to minimise the short term hit on the economy (while meeting BREXIT as we see it) and also what is necessary to encourage growth in the long term.


    Surely it’s now clear that Gove was right to do what he did. Whether the way he did it was acceptable is another question for some it appears.

  15. Colin,

    Or just someone with normal human sensitivity. I wouldn’t want to spend time with most of the PLP if I was Corbyn, given how mean they are to him. Of course, I don’t think that I (or anyone with ordinary human sensitivity or less) should be in a job like PM, so this would be a problem for Corbyn.

  16. COLIN

    Well some of the Unions still seem to be backing him, perhaps he really is “Big Brother”.

  17. OLDNAT

    For the third time I’ve done. From your posts I would say you are definitely “young at heart”

    Apologies, type to fast sometimes. :-)

  18. hello everyone have been ill last couple of weeks so no idea whats been said etc
    thought people might find this interesting
    nought to do with tory leadership im afraid

  19. TULLY

    Looks interesting, I’ll have a good read when I get back from the allotment. Thank you for posting it.

  20. Farage has resigned!

  21. Tully

    The Loughborough media analysis is indeed very interesting. One point leaps out for me:

    “National press coverage was highly polarised, with pro-IN papers emphasising pro-IN campaigners and arguments, and pro-OUT papers emphasising pro-OUT equivalents. In aggregate terms, this produced a ‘coverage gap’ of 60%: 40% in favour of OUT campaigners. However, when these differences are weighted by circulation, the difference extends to 80%: 20%.”

    An 80/20 split of press coverage in favour of Leave must surely have swung the result. It was the Sun – and Mail, Express, Star and Telegraph – wot won it.

    Or, if you prefer, Murdoch, Desmond and the Barclay brothers.

  22. CambridgeRachel and Old Nat

    A shame that ian murray resigned – he helped to save my football club and seemed a decent bloke

  23. TULLY

    Many thanks for the Loughborough link.

    Good post. Your alternative of Murdoch, Desmond and the Barclay brothers is something I suspect only they would prefer, but it is more accurate.

    I was unsurprised by the Commentary’s:
    The referendum debate was certainly not about the consequences of the vote for the issue of devolution with the issue attracting less than 1% of media coverage. Given the clear majorities for Remain in both Scotland and Northern Ireland and post-referendum calls for independence, this is a remarkable absence in the coverage of the campaign.

    Had they added the BBC’s regular “except for viewers in Scotland” it would have been unremarkable but perhaps omitting NI’s issues wrt the GFA and especially the probability of a “hard” border with RoI was more surprising.

  24. TOH
    Don’t you think Corbyn is likely to be a puppet controlled by McDonnell, the unions etc. A bit like the Manchurian Candidate?

  25. Valarie – Lisa Nandy would the Mancunian candidate, I guess but she wont stand.

  26. @ Valerie

    ‘Don’t you think Corbyn is likely to be a puppet controlled by McDonnell, the unions etc. A bit like the Manchurian Candidate?’

    At the moment, Angela Eagle seems a better candidate for the title:

    ‘Sources inside Parliament have told WriteYou that the MP for Wallasey has been meeting regularly with Lord Mandelson, the main topic of conversation being the ongoing leadership coup. Reports suggest that the former Director of Communications has been visiting Eagle’s office in the Palace of Westminster repeatedly for the past week, and staying for hours at a time. ‘

  27. Alec

    Tom Watson is close to the unions being on the union right of Labour. He would certainly have the ear of Len McClusky.

    It could well be that McClusky has his own Momentum headache within Unite which could be influencing his actions.

    Certainly, the involvement of Tom Watson in negotiating a compromise should be seen as a mechanism for the unions trying to resolve the impasse.

  28. Very significant slump in last months PMI Construction index.

    In truth, this has been on a generally downward trajectory since 2014, with some bumps, but last month saw a very major slump, particularly in housebuilding – and this was before the vote.


    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.

    Opinium do supply it by nation, though that is confused by the figures including those who didn’t vote as well as those changing their minds. The biggest drop in Leave support is in Scotland, though with more movement to DK rather than anything else. Presumably unionist Leave voters are disconcerted by the fact they may have voted unwittingly to destroy what they wanted.

    But there’s a nett drop in Leave in England as well, even after a boost from Leave DNVs and of course Remain goes up massively. Movement is actually smaller in Wales (the sample’s under 100 though), though the Leave lead was smaller there initially and it’s still enough to move the country to Remain – as England is even more definitively.

    I know its not the done thing but corbyn could have invited a SNP MP to fill that role, I would have been tempted to do that

    Well it would be interesting to see if John McTernan’s head would literally explode.

    One of the interesting things about the YouGov survey of Labour members was that the regions most opposed to Corbyn (indeed the only ones that were) were Scotland and London. Presumably in Scotland most of the sort of people who support Corbyn joined the SNP (or maybe the Greens) already, while Scottish Labour remained small and declining[1]. It’s been noted in other surveys that SNP voters in Scotland sometimes seem keener on Corbyn than Labour ones are.

    The London bias is probably due to the effect of the ‘New Labour Economy’ – the heavy representation of Labour activists who are politically-employed by MPs, Councils, unions, think tanks and other organisations or companies. I suspect they are also heavily over-represented, even by London Labour standards, among YouGov panellists (because they are the sort of people who absolutely love filling in political surveys).

    [1] I Have already mentioned that the panel membership information that YouGov is using appears to date from last year without being updated. Similarly they may want to look at their targets fro regional differences, gender age and so on.

  30. Roger Mexico

    Thanks for that, I thought that the regional samples would be too small to draw any conclusions but now I realize that the sample that is most significant would be the largest by a long way. Are you saying that there has been enough movement in the English sample to potentially give a remain vote in England?

  31. Roger – very helpful thanks.

    I think the key is not in the very well and very bad numbers as they are entrenched but in those forced to choose fairly well or fairly badly with OK not an option.

    26% and 20% which gives 46% that could split 30/16 for example either way in a contest depending on who was standing.

  32. TOH,
    “Surely it’s now clear that Gove was right to do what he did. Whether the way he did it was acceptable is another question for some it appears.”

    Gove has known Boris for 30 years, and he conveniently only just realises the man’s shortcomings days after the referendum, and just before Gove himself announces his own candidacy for PM? And, if his interview on Marr is to be believed, he is only standing reluctantly, for the sake of the country, it has nothing to do with personal ambition?

    What is clear, especially from the Marr interview, is that Gove assumes the public have very low intelligence, and thinks he can maniuplate them with blatant lies. That makes me very suspicious of his true aims, and I doubt any of them are anything remotely to do with what is “right”.

  33. “‘Sources inside Parliament have told WriteYou that the MP for Wallasey has been meeting regularly with Lord Mandelson, the main topic of conversation being the ongoing leadership coup.”

    I’d almost managed to forget Mandelvort.

    Hopefully just a couple more days and he’ll be gone for good.

  34. Leadsom’s statements today are interesting. There is a general theme among the Conservative leadership contenders, it sounds like a shift to the left. Talk about protecting workers rights, more housing and the rich not being the priority. Of course Osborne strikes a discordant note with his new plan to slash Corporation tax.

    Is this just an attempt to challenge labour in its heartlands or is it a genuine turning. Peter Hitchens has been saying some very interesting things of late, he’s beginning to sound like corbyn. I’ve always liked his writing but disagreed with basically everything he says but now he’s making more and more sense

    Wouldnt it be strange if labour turned right just as the Tories were turning left


    <iAre you saying that there has been enough movement in the English sample to potentially give a remain vote in England?

    Yes. In fact I reckon that only considering those who have changed their minds – that is not including those who didn’t vote and are now regretting it – that there would be a very small remain lead in England. That’s using pro-rata estimating though.

    Incidentally the non-voters come disproportionately from the supporters of smaller pro-EU Parties (Lib Dems, Greens, SNP) which suggests that the Cameron-led campaign may have turned a lot of potential Remain supporters off.

  36. Re Farage resigning. Though many don’t like him, he has had a remarkable political career. Without ever being an MP he has been extremely influential in both bringing about the referendum and then winning it for Leave. I think he’ll be remembered in history as a more significant figure than many of the recent Tory and Labour leaders.

  37. Mr Jones

    Those ‘Sources” again

    Find it difficult to trust ‘Sources” it so often means.. We are making this up… or it means… we are repeating something that someone else has made up

    Still its interesting if true

  38. Re: ‘Having a plan for Brexit’

    It seems to me that both the media and our politicians have a problem with the very concept of the EURef. Specifically, they seem to have a need to frame it in terms of a general election, where one is voting for a team of leaders and a manifesto of policies that they intend to implement. There appears to be an issue in comprehending that the actual question was on our constitutional structure.

    Logically there should be no question of anyone needing a “plan” besides the government, since the EURef question was effectively: “Do you want stuff decided at an EU level, or should everything be decided at a national level?” At a national level, the government is who sorts stuff out.

    I had been cutting the campaigners (mainly politicians) some slack during the campaign, since it seemed that a push came from the public themselves to try and frame things in policy terms (NHS, immigration, what have you) as they found it harder to engage with the more specific, technical question on the ballot paper. However, I am coming to the conclusion that the politicians too have issues intellectually processing a vote that is not about leaders or policies but about the constitutional arrangement.

  39. @CHRISLANE1945

    Cameron is on gardening leave now isn’t he? Probably watching the tennis with some chilled gin and tonics. Who can blame him?


    There is no shift to the left. Leadsom is as left wing as Thatcher. This is all posturing and BS to try to be all things to all men and women. I see through it.

  41. @PETE B

    Farage is certainly a remarkable politician, I will readily admit that, though I am diametrically opposed to everything he stands for. As a wrecker he has been extremely effective – he spotted a cause for populist protest and set about to lead this cause until he reached his objective. Unlike Nick Griffin he cleverly avoided turning the anti-EU crusade into also a racial-nationalist one, and this enabled him to achieve some credibility in the media, even if he was never liked. I don’t think anyone will really match him within UKIP; I expect Carswell will follow him as leader but UKIP will probably slowly dissolve as the Tory party moves further and further right.

  42. Imaginative suggestion re UKIP from LabourEoin (formerly a regular on UKPR)

    “Farage resignation was necessary for UKIP to pivot left. Watch them gobble up Labour’s working class vote as our metropolitan elite squabble”

    I doubt that it’s a plan (since such things seem to be rather unfashionable in English politics at the moment) but an intriguing possibility.

  43. @popeye There are different views about ‘sovereignty’ . Does it reside in the people (and hence a need for continual referenda), parliament (OK queen in paliament or whatever) or recognition of other states (if Cornish people ovewhelming vote for Cornish nation and create a parliament are they sovereign if no one recognises them?).

    There is something odd about the people voting to give parliament sovereignty in a form which most of the members of it don’t want.

  44. CR

    “Those ‘Sources” again”

    Yes, fair point.

  45. ON
    As you say, unlikely to be a plan, but there are UKIP figures who are less confrontational, and hence perhaps less divisive than Farage. If Tories backtrack on the free movement of people, or Labour embrace it, as McDonnell has this morning, UKIP could become an even greater force.

    I agree that it is a straight constitutional question, but free movement of people was a big reason why there was a majority for Leave, and politicians ignore it at their peril.

  46. I wonder what the political landscape would look like if it were to realign the parties in to a more cogent philosophical spectrum of alliances? Maybe something like this ? 1.) A party consisting of the hard core brexit right of the conservative party plus the majority of ukipers with some anti -immigration labourites and maybe the most strident elements of the d.u.p ,2.) The moderate centre and left of the conservative party with some ukiper’s who were more eurosceptic on constitutional and sovereignty grounds plus orange book liberal’s and blairite labour 3.) The centre and soft left of the labour party plus the majority of the lib-dems and some moderates from the greens and assorted nationalist parties . 4.) The hard left of the labour movement plus leftist elements from the liberals , greens and nationalist parties. 5.) Assorted nationalist parties. what the make-up of such a parliament would be i wouldn’t like to guess ! But i would suggest that it would probably be a more accurate reflection of the countries political outlook and attitudes .


    I would have to assume that it’s a realisation that either way, one half of the Conservative electorate will want blood extracted from those they blame. Probably both if there’s a recession, and freedom of movement has to be accepted.

    And since the Conservative party is likely to be divorced from it’s ties with the City-Of-London, they may as well try to shift the blame there. I’m still not sure how this replaces their funding from these financial groups tho.

    I also don’t see any great plan to demonstrate that all this was the right thing to do, in order to try to convince remain voters to back the Conservatives in the long term. We’re yet to see any of the positives credibly explained, and there’s been massive rewind of promises made. There’s a heavy stain against the Conservative party amongst the under 40s, and it’s hard to see why getting older would make you naturally more Eurosceptic. Instead, I simply think that one particular generation had a deep set antipathy and superiority complex towards the continent.

    The result being on a knife edge, and demographics being what they are, if the referendum had been held a few years later then it’s an easy assumption that Remain would have won.

    Unless, against all evidence, it turns out that Britian’s mid-term future is much brighter, It’s hard to see a long-term future for Anti-EU Party Politics in this country. This appears to have been a pyrrhic victory for those opposed to the EU. I expect a weaker England to rejoin the EU at some point.

  48. JimJam

    I think the key is not in the very well and very bad numbers as they are entrenched but in those forced to choose fairly well or fairly badly with OK not an option.

    I agree and there may have been some effect from the hysterical atmosphere of last week as well. But, even so, I think the numbers still look pretty good for Corbyn, especially when it looks as if YouGov’s polls are based on membership as at a year ago rather than now. This may explain why the plotters are so reluctant to put up a candidate, knowing they will be destroyed. Though that assumes a level of competence and analysis which they haven’t shown during the last year.

    It’s possible that there have been other polls done privately, such as the Unison poll which was selectively leaked. (As always ‘Tabs or it didn’t happen’). However I would doubt they are worse for Corbyn or they would have been on every front page.

    Meanwhile we have had the first YouGov polling based on the Conservative candidates:

    (no tables as yet) which shows that May is looking difficult to beat. Given that she has got more MP backers than the other candidates combined:,_2016#Candidates

    which suggests that those PC-gone-mad Tories are heading for an All Woman Shortlist. Presumably Fox will go out in tomorrow’s ballot (he’s one of those people you have to check to see he’s still an MP), though there may be manoeuvrings to try to keep Leadsom off the final ballot to the members who are 63% Leavers. Gove or Crabb might be the safest opponent for May, though the members might produce a perverse result if they feel they are being mucked about with.

    And no doubt poor Anthony is now trying to work out how many UKIP members they have on the YouGov panel.

  49. Good afternoon all from a damp Clarkston East Renfrewshire.

    I’m all for EU nationals who are already living and working in the UK to be able to remain here even if UK nationals living in the EU don’t have the same rights. That would show were are for more grown up than the decrepit and crumbling EU.

    I don’t like the unnecessary anxiety its causing for people who have done nothing wrong and who have come to the UK legally …… that we have voted to dump the EU why can’t we deport all EU born criminals and Romanian street beggars straight away? I was in Glasgow on Saturday and while trying to ignore the vile knuckle dragger’s from the dozens of Orange Walks infesting the city center it was hard to ignore the dozen or so Romanian street beggars playing obscure out of tune instruments.

    Between the beggars and the Orange Walks they made the atmosphere in Glasgow extremely dirty and vile.

    there are UKIP figures who are less confrontational, and hence perhaps less divisive than Farage

    We may find out soon, should they reverse their decision not to contest the Batley & Spen by-election once Lab ask for it to be held.

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