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Last month, Boris Johnson topped the poll with 29 per cent of the vote, and Sajid Javid was second with 19 per cent. This month, the former Foreign Secretary consolidates his position to take 35 per cent, and Javid drifts down a bit to 15 per cent.

And that’s it in a nutshell.  Johnson’s resignation – plus his seniority, relative youth, the recognition factor and his Eurosceptic record – has given him the freedom to speak out and lent wings to his potential candidacy.

Jacob Rees-Mogg, that stern and unbending critic of Chequers, has been squeezed to ten per cent.  Michael Gove, that pragmatic backer of it, is down to six per cent.

As recently as July, the Environment Secretary was second on 17 per cent.  The previous month, Rees-Mogg was first on 21 per cent.  Chequers and the Davis/Johnson resignations have turned everything round.

For the moment at least, committed Brexiteers are increasingly lining up behind Johnson, and Javid’s cause stands out among Party members who don’t want the ex-Foreign Secretary, and are searching for an energetic and capable Minister to back.

Which throws a question back into the laps of Conservative MPs.  Guided by Johnson’s opponents, would they really try to stop his name going to the members in the event of a leadership election?

And there’s a question for his supporters, too.  Do they try to strike while the iron is hot – to force a confidence ballot in the Prime Minister while their man’s ratings are high?  But if so, does he who wields the dagger ever wear the etc?

You don’t need us to tell you that the former Foreign Secretary’s speech at the Party Conference fringe, hosted by this site, will be what Michel Barnier might call an événement.

239 comments for: Our survey. Next Tory Leader. Johnson stretches his lead at the top of the table.

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