The run-up to the last election saw the emergence of a number of potential new future Party leadership contenders. Some were simply testing the water. Others were making preparations. But all were readying themselves for regime change: in other words, for a General Election that would not produce a Conservative majority – and which would therefore be followed, sooner rather than later, by the departure of David Cameron.
We duly changed our future Party leader poll to reflect their presence and – given May’s result – must now change it all over again. Adam Afriyie, Graham Brady, David Davis, Chris Grayling, Philip Hammond, Andrea Leadsom, Philip Lee, Owen Paterson, Dominic Raab, Rory Stewart and Elizabeth Truss are out. Some of these names are relatively new to the poll; others are of much longer standing.
That leaves Liam Fox, Michael Gove, Jeremy Hunt, Sajid Javid, Boris Johnson, Theresa May, Nicky Morgan and George Osborne. One can make a good case for putting in Owen Paterson rather than Fox, if one believes that the older, traditional Right may have a presence in the contest when it comes. Or one might discount the younger centre-left of the Parliamentary Party as a force, and take out Nicky Morgan.
All of which is a way of saying that the drawing up of any such list is an art rather than a science, and I apologise for any shortcomings that this one has. At any rate, this second post-election poll suggests that we may be seeing the emergence of a “Big Three”. Last month, Boris Johnson led with 21 per cent, Sajid Javid was second with 17 per cent and George Osborne third with 15 per cent.
Here are this month’s figures:
- Boris Johnson: 23.2 per cent (up two points).
- Sajid Javid: 23.0 per cent (up six points).
- George Osborne: 22 per cent (up seven points).
- Theresa May: 13 per cent (down two points).
- Liam Fox: 11 per cent (up three points).
- Michael Gove: 4 per cent. (No change).
- Jeremy Hunt: 3 per cent. (No change).
- Nicky Morgan: 1 per cent. (No change).
In other words, Javid and Osborne have benefited most from the thinning of the field. The former was only two votes behind Johnson – who has been the only person other than Theresa May to have led this poll since I became Editor of the site in 2013. Osborne was only seven votes behind Javid. May’s position continues to decline.
What seems to be happening is that, in this new world of a Conservative majority, Osborne’s prospects are steadily improving – and those of his one-time P.P.S, Sajid Javid, are advancing in leaps and bounds. The Business Secretary’s attack on the CBI over Europe coincided with the poll being released and may have helped him.
Warning: these are early days (although were the EU referendum to take place next autumn a decision could be less than two years ago). Market sentiment is fickle. Shares can go up as well as down.
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