Results show no favourite to take over from Johnson should he be removed by MPs
Boris Johnson faces a vote of confidence among Conservative MPs, triggered by at least 54 MPs having sent letters expressing no confidence in the prime minister to Sir Graham Brady, the chairman of the party’s 1922 committee.
Should the Johnson be ousted as party leader by tonight’s vote, there will be a new leadership contest, which will ultimately be decided by a vote of Conservative party members.
Now, a snap YouGov poll of 506 Conservative party members, conducted today, finds that, while party members tend to think it was right for MPs to submit their confidence letters, they also tend to want them to vote to keep the prime minister in place.
Boris Johnson’s lead among party members is not huge though, with 53% saying MPs should vote to back him compared to 42% saying they should vote to remove him.
In the event that Boris Johnson does win, but only narrowly, party members are slightly more likely still to think he should remain in place, by 58% to 39%. In 2019, Theresa May won her confidence vote with the backing of 63% of Tory MPs, but was nevertheless fatally weakened despite her victory.
Should MPs vote to get rid of Johnson, there is no clear candidate party members are rallying around. Of 11 potential leadership candidates YouGov asked about, the most popular was defence secretary Ben Wallace, but with just 12% of the vote. Foreign secretary Liz Truss comes second on 11% of the vote, while Jeremy Hunt – who was defeated by Boris Johnson in the 2019 leadership contest – comes joint third on 10%.
Former heir apparent Rishi Sunak places joint fifth alongside Michael Gove, both on 7%.
Do Conservative party members still see Boris Johnson as an election winner?
Asked what they think the outcome of the next election would be whether Boris Johnson or someone else is in charge of the Conservative party, the number of party members who think the Tories would win a majority is the same (39% and 41%, respectively).
However, they are less likely to anticipate some form of Labour victory is Boris Johnson is deposed before the next election. In the event that Boris Johnson remains in charge, 10% of party members expect Labour to win a majority, and another 22% believe Labour would be the largest party in a hung parliament. Should someone else be leading the Conservatives, those figures fall to 4% and 14% respectively.