Boris Johnson most popular prospective Conservative leader

Ipsos MORI Political Monitor September 2015 finds Boris Johnson is the most popular prospective Conservative leader amongst the public, but most Conservatives support George Osborne.

Boris Johnson is the most popular potential candidate to lead the Conservative party after David Cameron steps down, although George Osborne has the lead among Conservative supporters.  

One in four (27%) say the London Mayor would be the candidate to make them most likely to vote Conservative at the next election. Falling behind Boris Johnson is Theresa May with 17%, George Osborne with 15%, Sajid Javid with 4% and Michael Gove with 3% (although 42% of Labour supporters, 28% of Liberal Democrats and 16% of UKIP supporters said ‘none of them’ would likely make them vote Conservative). Conservative supporters are though more likely to support George Osborne over Boris Johnson with one in three (32%) opting for the Chancellor versus three in ten (29%) choosing the London Mayor. Eighteen percent of Conservatives back Theresa May, 4% Michael Gove and 3% Sajid Javid.

The poll, with fieldwork carried out before the Labour conference, also shows that Jeremy Corbyn is seen as more left-wing than Ed Miliband, while views of David Cameron’s stance have also drifted to the right.  When considering how left/right wing each of the party leaders are on the political spectrum three in five (60%) say that Jeremy Corbyn is left-wing with 8% saying he’s left-of-centre. This is more to the left than the public perceived Ed Miliband to be in October 2013 when 26% believed Mr Miliband to be left-wing and 28% said left-of-centre. Three in ten (30%) see David Cameron as right-wing (up from 24% in October 2013) and a similar number (31%) see him as right-of-centre (down from 33%).  Nigel Farage is seen as more right-wing than right-of-centre, with 44% saying he is right-wing and 9% as right-of-centre. The public are still yet to make up their minds about Tim Farron’s ideological placement with more than half (52%) saying they don’t know where he stands on the spectrum. 

The findings suggest the public are split when it comes to Britain’s economic future. When asked if the general economic condition of the country will improve, stay the same, or get worse over the next 12 months, 35% said it would improve (down from 42% in July) and 34% said it would get worse (up from 28%) leaving a net optimism score of +1 (down from +14). This is the lowest score in Ipsos MORI’s Economic Optimism Index since June 2013.

Gideon Skinner, Head of Political Research at Ipsos MORI, said:  

“There is a striking divide in views of George Osborne, reflecting his position at the centre of political debate. Conservative supporters put him at the top of the list to be their next leader, but voters of other parties say he is much less likely to win their vote. Boris Johnson leads overall, but also has groups where his appeal waxes and wanes, while Theresa May's support is more steady.”


Technical note

Ipsos MORI interviewed a representative sample of 1,255 adults aged 18+ across Great Britain. Interviews were conducted by telephone 19-23 September 2015.  Data are weighted to match the profile of the population.

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