Boris Johnson emerges as favourite to succeed Theresa May as Conservative leader after cabinet resignation

New polling shows the ex-foreign secretary commands 29 per cent of support among Tory activists

Chuka Umunna and John Rentoul debate the possibility of another Brexit referendum

Boris Johnson has emerged as the favourite to succeed Theresa May for the first time in two years, in a sign his shock resignation over Brexit has gone down well among grassroots Tories.

New polling shows the ex-foreign secretary commands 29 per cent of support among Conservative activists, giving him a 10-point lead over his nearest rival, the home secretary Sajid Javid.

Prominent Eurosceptic backbencher Jacob Rees-Mogg secured 13 per cent of votes, with Michael Gove on 7 per cent and David Davis and Jeremy Hunt both winning around 4 per cent of votes, according to a poll by ConservativeHome.

Last month, Mr Johnson was in fifth position to become Tory leader with only eight per cent of the votes but his outlook appears to have improved since he dramatically quit the cabinet in protest at the prime minister's Brexit approach.

It is the first time the Brexiteer has topped the influential website's monthly leadership poll since 2016, when he gave his backing to the Leave campaign.

Ms May sought to unite her warring cabinet behind a new Brexit plan during an away-day at her Chequers retreat last month.

However the fragile peace was shattered when both Mr Davis and Mr Johnson resigned within hours of each other, both claiming they could not support her proposals which would keep Britain too closely aligned to the EU.

Mr Johnson warned the "Brexit dream is dying" in an explosive resignation letter, where he told Ms May that her plans could mean Britain becomes a "colony" of the EU.

He went on to make a critical Commons speech where he savagely attacked her Brexit plans as a “democratic disaster” that will leave the UK in “miserable permanent limbo” after it leaves the EU.

While he stopped short of directly challenging the prime minister, Mr Johnson made it clear that he was still a force to be reckoned with, claiming "it was not too late to save Brexit".

He told MPs: “Let us again aim explicitly for that glorious vision of Lancaster House – a strong, independent self-governing Britain that is genuinely open to the world.

“Not the miserable permanent limbo of Chequers, not the democratic disaster of ongoing harmonisation with no way out and no say for the UK.”

A separate poll for ConservativeHome also suggests that 45 per cent of grassroots Tories want Ms May to announce her resignation now.

The prime minister is due to cut short her holiday to hold private talks with French president Emmanuel Macron at his official residence later this week, as the cabinet continues its Brexit charm offensive in Europe.

Foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt will hold talks in Vienna with Austrian counterpart Karin Kneissl, having already delivered a blunt message to the EU that the likelihood of a no-deal Brexit is increasing by the day.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in