Penny Mordaunt is the runaway favourite for leader and next prime minister among Conservative members, according to a new YouGov poll.
A survey of 879 members put Ms Mordaunt on 27 per cent – almost twice as much as second-placed Kemi Badenoch, on 15 per cent.
Tom Tugendhat, chairman of the foreign affairs committee, had the support of 8 per cent, while attorney-general Suella Braverman was on 5 per cent.
Former health secretary Jeremy Hunt had the backing of 4 per cent, while just 1 per cent wanted chancellor Nadhim Zahawi as the next prime minister.
At 5/1, Ms Mordaunt has shorter odds of winning than Rishi Sunak, according to bookmakers.
The YouGov findings confirm those of a poll by Conservative Home on Tuesday, which put the same two candidates as favourites among the party faithful.
It also put her ahead of all her rivals in straight one-to-one choice questions.
But the new findings contradict a poll on Tuesday, by Opinium Research and Channel 4 News, that found Rishi Sunak was Conservative members’ first choice.
Former defence secretary and armed forces minister Ms Mordaunt is a Brexit backer and a Royal Navy reservist.
In the 2020 reshuffle, she was appointed paymaster general and last year became trade policy minister.
YouGov found Ms Mordaunt held a strong lead in both the single choice question, and in all head-to-head questions on who people would like to be the new party leader.
She told activists earlier she was the Tory leadership candidate that Labour “fears the most” and the party’s “best shot” at winning the next general election.
Launching her campaign using her initials to create the slogan “PM4PM”, the international trade minister also warned the Conservative Party had “lost its sense of self”, as she set out a pitch for low taxation and a reduction in the size of the state.
Flanked by former cabinet ministers Andrea Leadsom and David Davis, she also insisted she was “very different” from Boris Johnson, but indicated she would not call an early general election if she entered No 10.
Four years ago, Ms Mordaunt said “trans women are women and trans men are men” by insisting on a strictly biological basis for womanhood. She has also highlighted how she repeatedly stood up for women’s rights as minister for women and equalities from 2018 to 2019.
Observers have pointed out she could be the first prime minister with the initials PM and that if she appeared on Radio 4’s late-afternoon news programme she would be “PM PM on PM”.
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