Boris Johnson bags more than double the support of nearest rival in Tory leadership poll
Boris Johnson has surged to an eighteen-point lead over his nearest Conservative leadership rival in a fresh poll of Tory activists.
The former foreign secretary swept up almost a third (32.3%) of all support in a study for the ConservativeHome website - well clear of his nearest rival Dominic Raab on 14.7%.
The result marks a ten-point leap in the past month, and comes in spite of Mr Johnson - a longstanding critic of Theresa May's Brexit deal - switching to back the EU agreement when it came before MPs for a third vote.
But it follows a bruising month for Theresa May, who has been forced to agree a further delay to Brexit with European leaders.
ConservativeHome editor Paul Goodman said of Mr Johnson: "Essentially, his resignation catapulted him to the front of the queue as the main Conservative opponent of Theresa May’s EU policy. And the worse she does, the more he thrives.
"The postponement of Brexit, the talks with Jeremy Corbyn, the return of Nigel Farage, the looming European elections, the sense of drift and paralysis… all these have bumped him up to his highest total since last August."
Mr Johnson is followed in the poll by Mr Raab, the ex-Brexit Secretary who also quit the Government over the Prime Minister's EU deal.
Mr Raab has slipped by four points since last month's study, taking him down to 14.7% support.
Fellow Brexiteer Michael Gove meanwhile ranks third on 8.4% - down six points on the last poll at the end of March.
The trio of frontrunners are followed by support for 'other' on 7.3%, with Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt and Home Secretary Sajid Javid rounding out the top six on 6.4% and 4.7% support respectively.
Mr Hunt - seen as Mrs May's preferred successor - has seen his numbers stay broadly the same since last month's study, while Mr Javid has slipped by 1%.
While the findings are a major boost for Mr Johnson, the Tory leadership hopeful will still need to garner enough support among MPs in order to make it to any vote of the wider membership.
Under Conservative rules, MPs whittle down the list of candidates in a series of votes before asking activists to pick from the final two.
It was revealed last week that Mr Johnson had bagged a coveted office in Westminster's Portcullis House in order to help him network with MPs and build a successful campaign.
Former minister Mike Penning told The Independent that he had agreed to swap his parliamentary office with the ex-foreign secretary.
"He could well be the next prime minister, so it needs to be a credible office at the heart of Westminster – not a box in some annexe away from where MPs are most of the time," Mr Penning said.
A source close to Mr Johnson's campaign meanwhile told The Sun that "five new MPs a day" had been approaching him with their support prior to the Easter recess.