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LONDON – Boris Johnson has emerged as the new favourite to become Conservative leader among Tory party members, a new poll has shown.
The survey, conducted by YouGov/Times, has Foreign Secretary Johnson as the lead candidate to take over from Theresa May, with 23% of members saying they want the former London mayor in charge.
The data also shows that most Conservatives want May to resign before the next general election, despite the prime minister stating she wishes to fight the next election.
May told the BBC on Thursday: “I’m in it for the long term and there’s a job to be done and I will be fighting the next election.” Only 29% of members agree with her.
Ruth Davidson, the leader of the Scottish Conservatives, is favoured by 19% of Tory members polled, following the party’s strong performance in Scotland during the general election.
Backbench MP Jacob Rees-Mogg is the third favourite, with 17% of those polled saying they supported him. Rees-Mogg has previously been touted as the leading candidate.
Johnson’s resurgent performance in Conservative leadership polling suggests his gamble on making a Brexit intervention has paid off.
The foreign secretary wrote a 4,000-word article two weeks ago where he laid out his vision for a “glorious” Brexit, a week before May made her key speech in Florence.
He has also made it clear that he favours a short transition period, going against the prime minister, and endorsed a new think tank which supports a hard Brexit.
69% of Conservative members believe Johnson is doing a good job in running the Foreign Office, despite allies of Philip Hammond, the chancellor, calling him “simple-minded” last week.
David Davis, the Brexit secretary, slipped back to fourth on 11% despite being the favourite to be the next Tory leader in July.
Other potential leadership candidates, including Home Secretary Amber Rudd and Hammond, trailed on 6% and 5% respectively.
Andrea Leadsom, the leader of the house, does not feature in the list of named favourites, despite being one of the leading candidates in the last leadership election.
The poll will add tension to the Conservative Party conference in Manchester next week, which is expected to be dominated by speculation over who will succeed May.