Let’s start our Next Tory Leader run-off findings from this month’s ConservativeHome survey by looking at Boris Johnson v Michael Gove. Not so long ago, the two men were the Brexiteering leadership dream ticket that almost was – but wasn’t, for reasons we don’t need to explain to our readers.
And we find an emphatic win by the number two on that ticket, Gove, over the number one, Johnson. The Environment Secretary scoops over half the vote. The Foreign Secretary could be forgiven for thinking, if he sees this snapshot of Party opinion, that there’s no justice in this world.
But the buoyancy of Gove in our monthly Cabinet League table, and the gradual slide of Johnson, should render nothing in this result a surprise except perhaps the margin.
Before the EU referendum, the Foreign Secretary was slogging it out with Theresa May and George Osborne for the top place in the Next Tory Leader survey. Those halcyon days, and the even happier ones of the London Olympics under his mayoralty, seem a long time ago as we write.
Meanwhile, the Environment Secretary has pulled off an extraordinary comeback within the Party, due to his inventiveness in his job, strong media performances – and his steering clear of rows with Number Ten. Whether he is as popular with voters is another matter.
P.S: Note the abstention rate – 17 per cent, the best part of one in five respondents. The bulk of it is likely to be Remain-supporting Conservatives wishing a plague on both their houses.