“None of the Above” has now come first, first, second, second, first and now first again in the six Next Tory Leader surveys that we have conducted since the election. Two months ago, Boris Johnson pushed his way to the front of the queue after his Daily Telegraph protest against his own Government’s Brexit policy. The month before, Jacob Rees-Mogg had led the pack for the first time.
He is up from 15 per cent to 18 per cent. “Other” is down from 23 per cent to 22 per cent, so small a change as to mean no significant difference. Michael Gove was seven per cent last month; he is now on 12 per cent, and is the second named candidate, behind Rees-Mogg. That’s worth keeping an eye on.
Note too the gradual decline of David Davis. His ratings since the election have been 24 per cent, 20 per cent, 15 per cent, 13 per cent, nine per cent and now eight per cent.
Johnson’s ratings have been 18 per cent, nine per cent, seven per cent, that revived 21 per cent, 19 per cent and now 11 per cent. Mogg-mania is squeezing him.
No-one else is worth much of a mention. The single re-entrant, Jeremy Hunt, and new entrant, Gavin Williamson, take a paltry five per cent between them.
One way of looking at this survey question is to remember that, if Theresa May steps down before the next election, Party members won’t choose the two candidates put before them. MPs will.
And a way of mulling the answers is to tot up the totals of the people in it who backed Brexit during the referendum: add Rees-Mogg’s, Gove’s, Johnson’s, Davis’, Raab’s, Patel’s and Leadsom’s totals together and one reaches 59 per cent of the vote.
Which suggests that if one of the two candidates who goes before the members is a Brexiteer, he or she is in with a very good chance. But remember: the leitmotif of answers to this question since the election is a lack of enthusiasm for anyone in the field.