The conservatives would be better off with Theresa May in a General Election than any other leader, a poll has found.
The Tories’ election prospects would be harmed if Boris Johnson or Jacob Rees-Mogg were in charge, according to the findings.
The results will make welcome reading for No 10 ahead of what is expected to be a tumultuous party conference season.
Replacing Theresa May with Boris Johnson, or other putative leadership candidates, would not boost the Conservative party’s chances of winning the next election, the ICM poll for the Guardian found.
It revealed that voters believe the Tories would be more likely to lose the next election if Mrs May was replaced by Johnson or five other potential successors.
The conservatives would be better off with Theresa May (pictured in June) in a General Election than any other leader, a poll has found
The only scenario which could improve Tory prospects, according to the poll, was if the party was led by an unspecified person who was ‘quite young and able [and] not currently in government’.
The Tory party is currently mired in questions over an autumn leadership challenge since the Prime Minister announced her Chequers Brexit plan.
Boris Johnson resigned as foreign secretary over the proposal, intensifying talk that he would mount a challenge for the top job.
He is said to be planning a speech at Tory party conference to rival Mrs May’s turn on the main stage.
Mr Johnson has soared to the top of the future leadership board in the regular survey of Conservative party members conducted by the ConservativeHome website.
Brexiter Jacob Rees-Mogg had previously scored near the top of the board.
But, asked by ICM if the Conservatives would have a better chance of winning the next election under Mr Johnson, only 27 per cent of respondents agreed.
Some 45 per cent disagreed, giving Mr Johnson a net score of -18. Mr Rees-Mogg is also seen as a vote loser, with a net score of -19.
The Tories’ election prospects would be harmed if Boris Johnson (pictured on August 14) or Jacob Rees-Mogg were in charge, according to the findings
Sajid Javid, who since being promoted to home secretary is increasingly seen as a strong candidate to succeed May, also comes out as a potential liability, with a net score of -18.
Two other leading candidates – Michael Gove, the Environment Secretary, and Jeremy Hunt, the new Foreign Secretary – are seen as even worse choices.
Just seven per cent of people believe each man would help the party’s chances, and their respective net ratings are -38 and -34.
Of the named politicians, Ruth Davidson, the Scottish Conservative leader, comes out best, with 15 per cent saying that the party would do better under her, while only 22 per cent said the opposite, giving her a net score of -7.
But Miss Davidson is not an MP, and unlikely to get a ld get a Westminster seat in time for any imminent leadership contest.
A quarter of respondents said the Tories would do better under ‘someone quite young and able who is not currently in government’ as leader.
But 20 per cent disagreed, giving this unspecified candidate a net score of +5.
Brexiter Jacob Rees-Mogg (pictured last September) had previously scored near the top of the board. But, asked by ICM if the Conservatives would have a better chance of winning the next election under Mr Rees-Mogg – the verdict was that he would be seen as a vote loser, with a net score of -19
The figures are based on a small sample size of 2,021 adultes. Among Conservative supporters, Mr Johnson is the only candidate seen as likely to increase the party’s chances.
Some 41 per cent of Tory-supporting respondents believe he would help the party, against 33 per cent who disagree, giving him a net score of +8.
However, in a leadership contest Johnson would be challenged to show that he could win over Labour voters.
But Mr Johnson is seen as the most toxic possible successor to Mrs May among Labour voters, with just 14 per cent of them saying he would help his party win an election, and 60 per cent saying he would hinder them.
The poll also shows the Tories on 40 per cent – up one point from two weeks ago, Labour on 40 per cent, the Liberal Democrats on eight per cent and Ukip on six per cent – all unchanged.
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