‘Boris bounce’ makes him the favourite to take over from Cameron
LONDON Mayor Boris Johnson has emerged as the voters’ favourite to take over as Tory leader after David Cameron according to a new YouGov poll.
Almost a quarter of 1,787 people polled and a third of Tory voters backed the London mayor, who appears to have benefited from the goodwill feeling from the Olympic games.
He was also being backed by major party donors who believe he is in a better position to win the conservatives the next election.
The poll comes as questions have been asked whether Mr Cameron will step down before the next election amid growing dissent over Europe, gay marriage and the House of Lords among his backbenchers.
A Cabinet reshuffle is expected in early September when Mr Cameron will try to reassert his authority and freshen up his ministerial team. There have been question marks over the future of his close political friend, Chancellor George Osborne, after what has been seen as a poor Budget along with the UK going into recession.
Yesterday, Tory Foreign Secretary William Hague, who was second favourite to take over with 14 per cent, insisted that Mr Cameron would stay.
Mr Hague said: “Boris is doing a great job as Mayor of London and people love him the more they see him, and that’s great. I am one of his biggest fans and campaigned hard for his re-election.
“But I think it is true to say – and certainly it is true for me – that I hope and believe that we are not looking for a long time for any new leader of the Conservative Party.
“We have got the best leader and the best Prime Minister we have had in a long time, and I think it will be some time before we Conservatives are looking for a new leader.”
The poll put long-term coalition critic and former shadow home secretary David Davis in third with six per cent with Mr Osborne on just three per cent and Education Secretary Michael Gove, one of the most senior Scots in the Cabinet, on two per cent.
According to the poll, Mr Johnson was an even more popular choice as next leader among Conservative voters, with 33 per cent naming him as the best replacement for Mr Cameron, against 24 per cent for Mr Hague.
And several major Tory donors said that they regarded Mr Johnson as a potential future leader.
The poll reflected the so-called “Boris bounce” which the mayor has enjoyed during the London Olympics, garnering favourable headlines even when left dangling from a zipwire in a stunt which went wrong. The proportion of people saying he would make a better leader than Mr Cameron has risen from 23 per cent in July.
With figures released last week showing the Tory party’s income was cut by nearly half last year, dropping by almost £20 million to its lowest level since 2003, the views of wealthy donors who have supported the Tories in the past will carry some weight in determining the prospects of potential future leaders.
Financier Peter Hall, who has given more than £450,000 to the Conservatives, said Mr Johnson could be the right leader for Britain if the country sinks into a very deep recession.
“Boris’s great strength is his confidence and his optimism and his ability to, in an almost Churchillian way, inspire people to hope for a better future,” said Mr Hall.
Entrepreneur Hugh Osmond, who gave the Tories almost £100,000 in 2008 and 2009 but has not made a donation since the general election, said: “I’ve always thought that Boris espoused principles and ideals more in line with the things that I believe in than David Cameron.”
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