Boris Johnson favoured for Tory leader as George Osborne tumbles

Poll shows surprisingly lukewarm support for Cameron to lead party into next election

Boris Johnson has emerged as the favoured choice of Conservatives to succeed David Cameron as leader of the party, according to a survey for The Independent.

The Mayor of London, who is enjoying a high profile during the Olympics, is favoured by 32 per cent of party members, according to the poll of 1,419 activists conducted by the ConservativeHome website. His nearest rivals are William Hague, the Foreign Secretary and a former party leader, who is backed by 24 per cent, and Michael Gove, the Education Secretary, on 19 per cent.

George Osborne, who was widely seen as Mr Johnson's main rival in the future leadership stakes, is supported by a derisory 2 per cent after a difficult four months since his trouble-hit Budget. Tory leaders are elected by party members in a ballot after the contenders are whittled down to a shortlist of two by the party's MPs.

The survey also revealed lukewarm support for Mr Cameron among the Conservative grassroots, who are traditionally loyal to the leader. A minority (49 per cent) of members surveyed want the Prime Minister to lead them into the next general election. Mr Johnson is the second choice on 18 per cent, followed by Mr Hague on 12 per cent and David Davis, the former shadow Home Secretary, on 10 per cent. No members opt for Mr Osborne. The figures suggest little appetite among activists for Mr Cameron's modernising project and a desire to return to a more traditional Tory agenda.

According to the poll, Tory members are pessimistic about the party's chances of retaining power at the next election. A majority (53 per cent) believe Labour is most likely to be in office while 47 per cent think the Tories will be.

A Labour-Liberal Democrat coalition is seen as the most likely outcome (22 per cent), followed by an overall Labour or Conservative majority (both 20 per cent), a minority Tory government (19 per cent), a minority Labour government (11 per cent) and a second Con-LibDem coalition (8 per cent).

There appears to be little love for the present Coalition with the Liberal Democrats. A tiny 1 per cent of Tory members wants it to continue beyond the next election and 20 per cent want it to end as soon as possible, ideally this year, while 9 per cent say it should end in 2013 and 10 per cent in 2014.

The most favoured course, backed by 41 per cent of members, is for the Coalition to end shortly before the election so the two parties can set out their own plans. Some 19 per cent want it to continue right up to the election.

Allies of Mr Johnson will be encouraged by the findings. Until recently, he enjoyed little support among Conservative MPs but has been taken much more seriously as a potential leader since beating Labour's Ken Livingstone in May to win a second term at City Hall. He is now regarded as the most popular Tory politician in the country and supporters hope a successful Games will enhance his leadership credentials. They believe he will land a safe Tory seat on the eve of the 2015 election and serve as an MP in his final year as Mayor.

In contrast, Mr Osborne appears to have suffered a dramatic fall from grace after a disastrous Budget and growing doubts about his economic strategy following the slide into a double-dip recession. Unless the Chancellor's fortunes recover, he may not stand in a future leadership contest. Mr Gove could then emerge as the "stop Boris" candidate. The Education Secretary, seen as one of the Cabinet's successful performers, would not run against Mr Osborne but might be persuaded to be a modernisers' standard-bearer against the more traditionalist Mr Johnson.

Mr Davis, backed by 12 per cent of Tory members as Mr Cameron's successor, is the most popular of the possible right-wing contenders. He is ahead of Philip Hammond, the Defence Secretary (7 per cent), and his predecessor Liam Fox (3 per cent). Theresa May, the Home Secretary, is favoured by 2 per cent.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Life and Style
love + sex A new study has revealed the average size - but does that leave men outside the 'normal' range being thought of as 'abnormal'?
Arts and Entertainment
TV
Voices
The Palace of Westminster is falling down, according to John Bercow
voices..says Matthew Norman
Sport
Steve Bruce and Gus Poyet clash
football
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
News
Graham Norton said Irish broadcaster RTE’s decision to settle was ‘moronic’
TV
Arts and Entertainment
Jake and Dinos Chapman were motivated by revenge to make 'Bring me the Head of Franco Toselli! '
arts + ents Shapero Modern Gallery to show explicit Chapman Brothers film
Arts and Entertainment
Kurt Cobain performing for 'MTV Unplugged' in New York, shortly before his death
music Brett Morgen's 'Cobain: Montage of Heck' debunks many of the myths surrounding the enigmatic singer
Life and Style
life
Sport
Brendan Rodgers
football The Liverpool manager will be the first option after Pep Guardiola
News
Amazon misled consumers about subscription fees, the ASA has ruled
news
Arts and Entertainment
Myanna Buring, Julian Rhind-Tutt and Russell Tovey in 'Banished'
TV Jimmy McGovern tackles 18th-century crime and punishment
Arts and Entertainment
Paul Whitehouse as Herbert
arts + ents
2015 General Election
May2015

Poll of Polls

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Lettings and Sales Negotiator - OTE £46,000

£16000 - £46000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Recruitment Genius: Home Care Worker - Reading and Surrounding Areas

£9 - £13 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is a great opportunity to join a s...

Recruitment Genius: Key Sales Account Manager - OTE £35,000

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Have you got a proven track rec...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - OTE £40,000

£15000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a great opportunity for...

Day In a Page

Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

Poldark star Heida Reed

'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn