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There has been a slight drift down of Johnson’s total during the past three months – from 26 per cent to 24 per cent to 22 per cent now.

Meanwhile, Raab has risen from 12 per cent through 13 per cent to 18 per cent.

And Gove is up from nine per cent through ten per cent to 15 per cent.

No-one else is in double figures.

These findings were largely obtained before Friday’s vote on the Withdrawal Agreement, in which all three of these front-runners voted with the Government.

Your explanation of the figures will be as good as ours, as ever, but it is hard to believe that some sparkling Commons performances haven’t helped to raise Gove’s total.

Raab has been having a bit of a push.

And as front-runner Johnson is perhaps slightly exposed to them and others.

There is a weakness in the survey, which we can’t do anything about, and a refinement that would help it, on which we can act.

The weakness is that it tests Party members’ views, not those of Conservative MPs.  And it is the latter who will select the two candidates to put to the former (assuming that a contest does takes place and that its rules are unchanged)

So for example, we suspect that Jeremy Hunt’s Parliamentary backing leaves him potentially well-placed to reach that last stage. But there is no way of knowing.

The refinement is run-offs.  After all, the person who tops our survey in any month might not be the eventual winner.

The last time we tried run-offs the finalists were Javid and Gove, with the former beating the latter by 43 per cent to 41 per cent.

So the fomat is due another run.

New to this month’s table, by the way, are Liam Fox, Matt Hancock, Mark Harper and Nicky Morgan.  We could have chucked in several more names.  Speaking of which…

…we apologise to Graham Brady, Iain Duncan Smith, Justine Greening, Tobias Ellwood and any other potential candidate who we haven’t named.  The list is now sufficiently long to reach the ground if unfurled from the top of Barad-dur.

258 comments for: Next Tory Leader. It’s Johnson first, Raab second and Gove third in our first survey since May’s pledge to quit.

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