Blow for Boris Johnson as poll finds public would prefer Jeremy Hunt as Prime Minister
The public would rather have Jeremy Hunt as Prime Minister than Boris Johnson, a new poll has revealed.
In a blow for the former foreign secretary's leadership hopes, a new YouGov study saw him trail his rival Mr Hunt by twelve points among the general public.
Asked who they would pick if they had to choose between the two, 29% of those asked opted for Mr Johnson - while 41% plumped for Mr Hunt.
The remaining 30% said they did not know.
Mr Johnson has focused his campaign on the argument that he is best placed to beat Jeremy Corbyn in a general election.
But the research finds the pair are neck-and-neck in a hypothetical election held after Brexit is delivered - with 33% saying they would vote Tory if either Mr Hunt or Mr Johnson leads the party.
Both candidates are ten points clear of Labour under that scenario.
YouGov director Anthony Wells said: "If the Conservatives are looking towards Boris Johnson as a magic election winner, the evidence is simply no longer there.
"A decade ago he had a reputation as the Tory who could reach voters other Tories could not, and significantly outperformed his party in the 2012 mayoral election. However our latest polling does not suggest he offers any innate electoral advantage over Jeremy Hunt."
A source on Mr Hunt's campaign said: "Jeremy remains the underdog but this shows we've got the momentum. He's clearly the candidate best trusted to beat Corbyn."
The YouGov study also found that more Brits believe Mr Hunt would make a good prime minister than Mr Johnson.
Twenty-eight percent of those polled said Mr Hunt would make a good PM, versus 25% for his rival.
But the poll reveals a mixed verdict on the pair's leadership qualities, with just 12% saying Mr Hunt would be "good at handling Brexit" versus 22% for Mr Johnson.
Meanwhile fewer than a quarter (24%) said Mr Hunt has a "likeable personality", 12 points below Mr Johnson on 36%.
However, Mr Hunt was dubbed "honest" by 22% of those polled - against just 14% for Mr Johnson - while 26% said he had a "good moral character", 12 points clear of Mr Johnson on 14%.
Mr Johnson's campaign - which needs to win over the Conservative membership to become party leader - will be cheered by the finding that 48% of Tory voters would prefer him as Prime Minister.
Twenty-nine percent of Tory voters opted for Mr Hunt in the study - with 13% parked in the "don't know" column.
YouGov spoke to 1,686 British adults for its survey, which was carried out between 26 and 27 June.