Boris Johnson’s most recent scores in our Next Tory Leader surveys have been 33 per cent, 43 per cent – and now 54 per cent. That 43 per cent score was already a record for the survey in this question, as far as we can tell, and Johnson’s eve-of-poll rating sees him taking more than half the vote.
Rory Stewart’s brilliant campaign has taken him to second, but he is more than 40 points behind the front-runner. Dominic Raab, who was on 15 per cent at the end of May, has seen his rating almost halve since then. Johnson has clearly eaten into his support.
Michael Gove’s turbulent week sees four points knocked off his total – not all that much, but he had a small rating to begin with: 12 per cent. That none the less saw him second in our last survey: he is now fourth. Jeremy Hunt rises slightly from five per cent to eight per cent, and Sajid Javid does likewise from three per cent to five per cent.
But these are footling scores. For obvious reasons, Penny Mordaunt and Steve Baker have come out of the survey. None of the remaining candidates seriously trouble the scorers. Our reading of the result is that a majority of Party members presumably want their say in due course – but also wish to see this contest over and done with.
In our view, Johnson’s support is a mix of genuine enthusiasm and a certain resignation: a sense that he is the candidate most likely to see off both Jeremy Corbyn and Nigel Farage, if that can be done at all. Tory activists want Johnson as their next leader, and Conservative MPs are now likely to put him before them.
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Our pre-first Parliamentary ballot calculations have the candidates’ votes as follows:
- Johnson 83.
- Hunt 37.
- Gove 34.
- Raab 23.
- Javid 19.
- Hancock 17.
- Harper 8.
- Stewart 7.
- McVey 6.
- Leadsom 4.
That’s 238 votes in all out of 313 Conservative MPs.
Today, we will find out –
- Whether the votes of the 75 undeclared Tory MPs break decisively for Johnson; for another of the leading candidates – or go all over the place.
- If Hunt can scoop most of them to overhaul Johnson and win the first ballot.
- How badly last weekend’s revelations have hit Michael Gove’s support.
- Whether Raab can build on our estimate of 23 votes to stay a real challenger in the contest – and somehow lure centre-right votes away from Johnson in the later ballots.
- Seventy-five plus 19 is 94. You will therefore see that Javid would have to grab almost all the undeclared votes to overtake Johnson. His aim today will be take enough to come a good fourth, third or just possibly second.
- If Matt Hancock can gain enough centre-left party votes to push down Gove’s backing and get on Hunt’s tail.
- How Stewart’s extraordinary campaign has gone down with his colleagues – and whether he can spring a surprise.
- And if Esther McVey, Andrea Leadsom and Mark Harper will do the same.