Poll boost for Boris Johnson as more than half of Tory members now say they would back him
Boris Johnson’s hopes of seizing the Conservative leadership have received a boost as a fresh survey of members revealed that more than half would back him for the first time.
A new study of Tory activists for the grassroots ConservativeHome website finds that 54% believe the former foreign secretary should succeed Theresa May as party leader.
But the survey is likely to be grim reading for rival Dominic Raab, who slumps to third place in the rankings behind Rory Stewart.
Mr Johnson’s 54% score among the 1,512 members polled represents his best-ever showing in a ConservativeHome study, and is 11 points clear of his previous high of 43 - logged just five days ago.
Mr Stewart, the International Development Secretary who has grabbed the spotlight with a vigorous social media campaign, has meanwhile leapfrogged Mr Raab to rank second place.
But with 11% support, he still trails Mr Johnson by 40 points.
Just eight percent of members now said they would back Mr Raab, a fall on the 11% support he registered in the last study.
Environment Secretary Michael Gove - whose campaign has been hit by revelations he used cocaine when he was younger - has meanwhile suffered a four-point drop, falling from 12% to 8% support.
Fellow Cabinet minister Jeremy Hunt ranks fifth in the study, with 7% of members naming him as their pick for leader, and 5% opting for Home Secretary Sajid Javid.
Remaining candidates Esther McVey, Andrea Leadsom, Matt Hancock and Mark Harper all failed to register more than 3% support in the study.
The findings come as Tory MPs prepare to whittle down the list of leadership candidates in the first round of voting.
Those hoping to take on the top job will need at least 17 votes from fellow Conservative MPs to make it through the first ballot of the contest, with anyone failing to secure that number automatically eliminated from the race.
And under Conservative rules, the lowest-ranking candidate will have to quit the race.
The ballot takes place between 10am and 12pm, with results expected to be read out by party bosses at 1pm.
Further ballots are on the cards throughout June until just two candidates are put before Conservative members for a party-wide vote.