Theresa May cannot formally be challenged as Conservative leader until this coming December – a year after the unsuccessful bid to topple her by the European Research Group and others. There are doubtless other ways of toppling a Tory leader, and her position remains extraordinarily vulnerable. But there is no current expectation of moves against her before March 29 – or afterwards in the event of extension.
It may be for this reason that there is little movement in our Next Tory Leader survey this month. Boris Johnson leads on 26 per cent, 14 points more than the next contender, Dominic Raab. Last month the latter was on the same total and Johnson’s rating was a point higher. Michael Gove is up to third from three per cent to nine per cent. Perhaps his swashbuckling winding-up speech in the recent no confidence vote provides the explanation.
Otherwise the main point to note is the gradual decline of Sajid Javid. In our October survey he was second, and a point off Boris Johnson, on 19 per cent. His scores since have been 12 per cent, 13 per cent and this month seven per cent. There is no obvious explanation for the drop. Against a background of very little media leadership speculation indeed, the pattern of the table suggests that many respondents have only half an eye on the prospect of change, if that.