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Rishi Sunak favourite among public to replace Boris Johnson if coronavirus forces him to step back

Rishi Sunak is the favourite among voters to replace Boris Johnson should he become unwell

2 min read

Rishi Sunak is the firm favourite to stand in for Boris Johnson should he become too unwell to carry out his duties, according to new polling.

The Prime Minister announced on Friday he had been diagnosed with coronavirus, but said he has only mild symptoms and has vowed to continue to lead the country from self-isolation in Number 10.

New polling for the Mail on Sunday found the Chancellor would be the public's pick to be acting PM should Mr Johnson's symptoms worsen.

It comes after Downing Street revealed that Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab is the de-facto deputy-in-waiting should the PM become too unwell to work.

But according to the poll, 28% of the public would prefer the Chancellor to conduct the PM's duties, while 14% would like to see Health Secretary Matt Hancock - who has now also been diagnosed with the virus - step up to the job.

Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove is the public's third pick on 11%, while just 8% think Mr Raab is the correct person to lead the country in Mr Johnson's absence.

Mr Sunak's profile has risen in recent weeks as the Chancellor has been forced to make a series of major economic interventions to shore up workers and businesses amid the coronavirus crisis.

The Mail on Sunday study found that an overwhelming 78% of voters believe the Prime Minister is handling the coronavirus crisis well - despite a majority (63%) believing the stricter social distancing rules came into force too late.

Even harsher measures to tackle the spread of the disease also have overwhelming support, with food rationing in supermarkets backed by 77% of the respondents, while a whopping 87% believe shops should be limiting the number of people entering their stores at any one time.

Support for extra police officers on the streets to ensure social distancing measures is supported by 79%, while two-thirds (66%) would like to see army troops patrolling to make sure the rules are being followed.

The poll also revealed 18-24 year olds were most likely to admit to stockpiling, with 30% of the group confessing to buying extra food within the last week. 

Only 5% of 55-to-64 year olds said they had brought in extra supplies during the period, rising to 8% for the over-65s.

Meanwhile, amid concerns over the rate of testing being carried out in UK, 83% of voters believe doctors and nurses should get priority testing, with police and fire officers second on 67%.

Supermarket workers and delivery drivers are also high on the public's priority list with 64% and 53% respectively, while senior politicians trail on 19% and the royal family bottom out the list with just 15%.

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