UK Conservative leadership first round results

Boris Johnson is very probably Britain’s next Prime Minister, and polling suggests he would be a winner for the Conservatives. Guest post by Adrian Beaumont.

Guest post by Adrian Beaumont, who joins us from time to time to provide commentary on elections internationally. Adrian is an honorary associate at The University of Melbourne. His work on electoral matters for The Conversation can be found here, and his own website is here.

In the June 13 first round of the UK Conservative leadership election, Boris Johnson won support from 114 of the 313 Conservative MPs (36.4%). He only needed 105 votes to ensure he reached the membership runoff, where he is strongly supported. In the field of ten candidates, Jeremy Hunt was second with 43 votes (14%) and Michael Gove third with 37 votes (12%). Three candidates – Mark Harper, Esther McVey and Andrea Leadsom – failed to win the 17 votes needed to pass the first round, and were eliminated.

In the second round, to be held on June 18, the threshold for continuing rises to 33 votes. In subsequent rounds the bottom candidate is eliminated until there are just two candidates left – these two go to the hard-Leave supporting Conservative membership. Johnson will gain further support from the elimination of hard Brexiteers McVey and Leadsom, who had 20 combined votes. Whichever of Hunt or Gove finishes second is likely to be thrashed by Johnson in the membership vote. Johnson is very probably Britain’s next PM.

On June 12, the Commons defeated a Labour motion that would have enabled Brexit to be debated on June 25, 309 votes to 298. Ten Conservative MPs voted with Labour, but eight Labour MPs sided with the Conservatives. Had the motion succeeded, legislation to potentially rule out a no-deal Brexit could have been moved on June 25. With the Commons failing to take action that would prevent a no-deal, and Johnson likely to be the next PM, a no-deal Brexit on October 31 is more likely.

Both the Conservatives and Labour have tanked in polls in the last month, with the Brexit party, Liberal Democrats and Greens surging. The latest poll, by ComRes, has Labour leading with 27%, followed by the Conservatives at 23%, Brexit party at 22% and Lib Dems at 17%. However, in a hypothetical question with Johnson as PM, the Conservatives surge to 37%, Labour drops to 22%, the Lib Dems are up to 20% and the Brexit party falls to 14%. Under first past the post, this would be a Conservative landslide.

Hypothetical polls like this are frowned on by many poll analysts as people are not good at predicting how they will react to an actual event. But given Donald Trump and Scott Morrison’s upset victories relied on appealing to those with a lower level of educational attainment, it would be folly for the UK left to dismiss this poll result. The only thing that is likely to break the hold of some right-wing politicians over the lower educated is what the UK left most fear: catastrophic economic consequences of a no-deal Brexit.

Labour holds Peterborough at by-election triggered by recall

At the June 2017 general election, Peterborough was a surprise Labour gain from the Conservatives, with Labour winning by 48.1% to 46.8%. However, on May 1 Labour member Fiona Onansanya was recalled after more than 10% of constituents signed a petition. Onansanya had been convicted of lying to avoid a speeding ticket. It is the first time a recall petition has succeeded. Under the 2015 Act, recalls can only be used for MPs convicted of crimes or serious parliamentary misdemeanours, not for MPs who change their party.

At the June 6 by-election, Labour won with 30.9% (down 17.2%), followed by the Brexit party at 28.9%, the Conservatives at 21.4% (down 25.5%), the Lib Dems at 12.3% (up 8.9%), the Greens at 3.1% (up 1.3%) and UKIP at 1.2%. This constituency voted Leave by over 60-40 at the Brexit referendum, so it was seen as a strong target for the Brexit party – bookies heavily favoured that party. Ironically, Labour owes its win to the 21% who stuck with the Conservatives rather than vote for the Brexit party.

Left wins Danish election, and other electoral events

I wrote on my personal website on June 6 about left-wing parties winning a total 99 of the 179 seats at the June 5 Danish election. Also covered: a new election in Israel is required after Benjamin Netanyahu was unable to form a government, the German Greens have surged to a tie with the conservative CDU/CSU, and the left gained a Tasmanian upper house seat at May 4 periodical elections.

Author: William Bowe

William Bowe is a Perth-based election analyst and occasional teacher of political science. His blog, The Poll Bludger, has existed in one form or another since 2004, and is one of the most heavily trafficked websites on Australian politics.

54 comments on “UK Conservative leadership first round results”

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  1. If Boris Johnson becomes Prime Minister, he might be tempted if there is a surge in the Conservatives in the polls, to call an early general election.

    However the Conservative party is going to face the Momentum army of volunteers who will be campaigning for the Labour Party, which will end up in another hung parliament.

  2. This is significant, from Adrian’s post re a poll hypothetical showing the Tories winning an election with Boris as PM:

    But given Donald Trump and Scott Morrison’s upset victories relied on appealing to those with a lower level of educational attainment, it would be folly for the UK left to dismiss this poll result. The only thing that is likely to break the hold of some right-wing politicians over the lower educated is what the UK left most fear: catastrophic economic consequences of a no-deal Brexit.

    The RW anywhere do not want an educated population. This is why Morrison has thrown taxpayers’ money at private schools but underfunded public schools by many billions of dollars. This is why they destroyed TAFE and are making it so expensive to attend university. This is why the are constantly attacking (public) school teachers.

    They want a compliant, poorly educated bulk of the population who do not question why they are paid poorly or have bad working conditions. This is why the RW constantly attack and try to destroy unions.

  3. Tristo,

    I assume you mean call an election immediately after Brexit has occurred. Doing so before with the current polling would be lunacy.

    Assuming Boris becomes PM then the EU are going to have to decide if they prefer renegotiating their non-negotiable WA or getting a No Deal Brexit.

  4. FWIW I have proffered the view that both May and Corbyn have failed dismally at a key function – your actual leadership. May has paid the price. Corbyn has yet to pay the price but the progessive side of politics will pay it on his behalf.
    And Boris, Great Britain and another six years of Tory wrecking look to be the lucky winners!
    I note that Boris is being accused of ‘charm’.
    Whatever next?

  5. @Bucephalus

    If the polling numbers for the Conservatives dramatically increases if Boris Johnson becomes Prime Minister, why not go to an early election.

  6. “Donald Trump and Scott Morrison’s upset victories relied on appealing to those with a lower level of educational attainment”

    Absolute classic, talk about elitist dribble and this guy is a Psephology guru, Wow has he been to a Housing commission area in Britain or Australia and see what how high the Tory vote is in this lower level educational attainment area. “Lower educational attainment” is that the working class deserting the progressive elites. Yep but even better still the lefties don’t even know why. Wealthy lefties will keep conservatives in power until they understand what it is like to scrounge for money the car rego payment and have to live without for the next 2 pays.

  7. Being a Psephology guru means he has the evidence to back it up. You don’t. In the event, given the nature of this site you may wish to reconsider either adjusting your posting style to reduce personal attacks on writers, or posting.

    As an aside, its mildly surprising that UK politics brings out even lower quality posters than the main comment thread.

  8. Adrian, I notice that Chuka Umunna has now done the seemingly logical thing and joined the LibDems. Can you (or anyone else) please explain why those who formed the Indie Group/Change UK/Independent Group for Change* didn’t just join the LibDems straight away? In particular, were there any significant policy or world-view differences between them and the LDs? (Or did a some of them just fancy the idea of being the leader of a party rather than having to be second-or-third fiddle to Vince Cable?)

    *For those who haven’t caught up, alleged that “Change UK” was too close to, so the (temporarily?) remaining members have assumed their 3rd name since February – the Independent Group for Change.

  9. Jack, in the early days after the defections, the new TIG MPs had ideas of replacing the Lib Dems as the third force in UK politics. But that hope has completely gone after Change UK polled only 3.4% at the EU elections.

  10. If Johnson wins and goes for a hard Brexit on 31/10 than there is no reason for an early election.

    If he did then Labor would be wiped and in opposition for another 10 years.

  11. When Johnson wins (not if) the leadership he will call a snap election. The Brexit party probably wont run candidates. Ditto UKIP. The right will coalesce behind Borrison. The centre and left will fracture and the Tories will win in a landslide.

    Game. Over.

  12. Isn’t Boris’s campaign being run by Lynton Crosby, the Australian political guru? He is a very sharp political operator. And I think he would press Boris to have an early election.

  13. Don’t you guys remember how the last UK early election turned out? Theresa May was expected to wipe out Labour when she called the election in late April 2017 for June 8. Instead, the Tories were reduced to a minority govt. For Johnson to call an early election based on a few good polls would be very risky, and he could end up like Julia Gillard.

    What he could do is to tell Parliament that if a no-deal Brexit is obstructed, he will call an election. A lot of Labour MPs fear being portrayed as obstructing Brexit.

  14. Early election? Hmmmm. The Fixed-term Elections Act 2011 (UK) specifies that early elections can be held only:

    if a motion for an early general election is agreed either by at least two-thirds of the whole House or without division; or
    if a motion of no confidence is passed and no alternative government is confirmed by the Commons within 14 days.

    So PM Boris would have to get Labour to agree, or cook up a motion of no confidence in himself. Both unlikely. Or of course he can get a majority in both Houses to repeal the Act – also unlikely.

  15. @Jack Aranda

    The Labour Party have been wanting a General Election to happen for sometime while. Therefore; Boris Johnson might very well get Labour Party support for a General Election to be held.

    @Adrian Beaumont
    What you have described about Johnson calling a general election if a No Deal Brexit gets obstructed in the parliament, is plausible.

  16. Yes Tristo, but last time both majors thought they would win, so they agreed on a motion for an early election – and both of them were proved wrong. This time, I presume Boris will only want an election if the polls show he is well ahead, and then Labor will have to have a fit of the recklesses to agree.

  17. I just can’t see Boris going to the polls without first achieving a BREXIT. Until BREXIT occurs he has to contend with both BREXIT Party and UKIP taking votes from the Conservatives. As soon as he achieves BREXIT not only do those two parties disappear (or any reason for voting for them if they still exist) and he is likely to attract votes from Labor voters who supported BREXIT.

    This is an interesting article:

  18. @Jack Aranda
    Labour would be expected to agree. Oppositions are expected to grab any chance to form government. It agreed to Theresa May’s early election in 2016, despite poor polls.

    As Adrian said, Johnson running to the polls off his honeymoon bounce, if any, pre achieving Brexit is a risky manoeuvre because sentiment can change over the campaign, as May herself found out only 3 years ago.

  19. 32 of the last 54 Prime Ministers have come from just 3 private schools( Eton, Harrow and Winchester.) wealth and privilege count for more than genuine quality in the UK. Now another pompous,privileged prat will take over and give tax cuts to the well off while the food banks expand and homelessness proliferates,

  20. Boris crashing Little England out of the EU would be Britain’s greatest gift to the Russian Bear since Attlee gifted nice Mr Stalin access to the Rolls Royce jet engine.

  21. “Bucephalus says:
    Friday, June 14, 2019 at 5:17 pm
    I just can’t see Boris going to the polls without first achieving a BREXIT. Until BREXIT occurs he has to contend with both BREXIT Party and UKIP taking votes from the Conservatives. As soon as he achieves BREXIT not only do those two parties disappear (or any reason for voting for them if they still exist) and he is likely to attract votes from Labor voters who supported BREXIT.”

    Absolutely correct UNLESS Boris is forced to defer Brexit again because he cannot control his own MP’s (or if a few more defect to the LibDems or Independents – who oppose Brexit). In the latter case he might call a GE to seek vindication for his policies, but would run a huge risk. The Brexit party could still prove the Tories worst nightmare.

  22. PaulTu

    If idiot Remainers in the Conservatives or the DUP want to continue playing ducks and drakes then he should prorogue Parliament and proceed with a No Deal Brexit.

  23. @Jack Aranda

    Re: Change UK or [Whatever They’re Called Today] and the Lib Dems.

    It’s actually quite difficult to discern clear policies for this party beyond “Stop Brexit”, another referendum and a vague “Remain and reform” the EU. The initial 11 MPs have a range of backgrounds and voting records and the party as a whole hasn’t really carved out its position on non-Brexit matters.

    However there are other reasons why many were reluctant to touch the Lib Dems with a barge pole.

    Now I’m biased as a Conservative activist but it is no secret that many in both the Labour and Conservative Parties absolutely despise the Liberal Democrats. A lot of this comes from the way the way they campaign on the ground, the seeming hypocrisy of the party nationally pretending to be a nice and cuddly party whilst it allegedly has some of the dirtiest ground level campaigners in politics (including their notoriety for being fast and loose with figures in campaign materials, making their criticisms of other campaigns hypocritical), the practice of having different principles in different areas just to get votes (this piece by a then-Labour MP from 2009 highlights the way they operate as a perennial protest party mopping up whatever voters they can locally: ) and the self-righteous piousness of many in the party.

    There was also a widespread belief across the political classes that the Conservative-Liberal Democrat Coalition of 2010 to 2015 had absolutely toxified the party, making it unpalatable for pro European centrists looking for a new political vehicle. (In the last few years there have been numerous anti-Brexit centrist parties registered by random activists, the number rivalled only by splinter parties set up by ex UK Independence Party activists.) Polls showed no sign of recovery at all and throughout 2016-2018 the commentariat pretty much wrote off the prospect of a revived Lib Dems as a potential destination for the growing “Stop Brexit” movement.

    Finally some of the individual MPs have a long history of bitter opposition to the Lib Dems, in some cases due to local political battles. When Umunna was first elected in 2010 the Lib Dems nearly gained the constituency from Labour and it’s not hard to guess at what relations between the two parties in Streatham are like.

    So amidst all this the MPs who left their parties would have concluded the Lib Dems were a busted flush, worth co-operating with for the sole purpose of anti-Brexit campaigning but otherwise not a viable destination and they instead set their sights on displacing & destroying the Lib Dems as one of their first steps forward. Then [Whatever They’re Called Today] proceeded to be the most disorganised, shambolic mess that has ever called itself a political party (the saga of their name alone has been hilarious) and elections to councils gave the Lib Dems a major boost, before the unexpected European Parliament elections saw remainers firmly opt for the Lib Dems instead of the other lot.

  24. “I just can’t see Boris going to the polls without first achieving a BREXIT. Until BREXIT occurs he has to contend with both BREXIT Party and UKIP taking votes from the Conservatives.”

    The Brexit and UKIP party only exist because they are pissed off with the Conservatives being ‘weak’ on Brexit. If Borrison promises them exactly what they want, that protest vote may well disappear. In fact it’s worth speculating that if Johnson campaigns on a ‘Brexit, no matter what’ platform I really do wonder whether either party would run candidates against Pro Brexit, pro Borrison sitting Tories.

    On the other hand, I could see Labour completely wedged by multicornered contests.

    I reckon that if Borrison could lure Corbyn into agreeing to another GE (and Jeremy is THAT stupid) then he will go for it and win. Bigly.

  25. swamprat – your link doesn’t exist.

    UK opinion polls are quite amazing with Tories, Labor, Lib Dems and Brexit party all topping polls in last 2 months. With first past the post voting that is a recipe for chaos.

  26. “UK opinion polls are quite amazing with Tories, Labor, Lib Dems and Brexit party all topping polls in last 2 months. With first past the post voting that is a recipe for chaos.”

    Chaos is a ladder.

  27. The Greens are surging all over the place, including in Australia, because people are sick of the old parties not taking climate change seriously.

    It’s wonderful to see the left rise to meet and defeat the far right in Europe. What’s happening in Germany is particularly encouraging. Germans know better than most how disastrous it can be to allow ultra conservative/authoritarian/racist politicians to gain power. That’s the last thing most of them want and good on them.

  28. @Andrew_Earlwood

    If Boris Johnson were able to Labour support to call a General election, I am not sure the Conservative Party could win a majority. Because the Labour Party has literal army of volunteers, who will actively campaign and hustle for the party. Not to mention the Labour Party has a pretty appealing platform, which has attracted a lot of Millennial and Generation Z voters.

    My prediction for such an election would be another hung parliament. Plus Boris Johnson is on a majority of 5,000 and could be vulnerable to losing his seat in such a general election.

  29. Spence

    “swamprat” your link does not exist”

    Sorry about that. It does from my iPad. It was to a report from Feb 19 to The Scotsman.

    A part of it says:

    ‘Operation Arse’:
    Scot Tories claim victory in stopping Boris PM bid

    Former UK foreign secretary Boris Johnson speaking at the Pendulum Summit at the Dublin Convention Centre


    Published: 22:30
    Friday 08 February 2019

    Boris Johnson’s bitter rivals in the ­Scottish Conservatives have declared victory, saying their campaign to discredit him as a future Tory leader has been a “great success”.

    A senior Scottish Tory source said the former foreign secretary was no longer considered a serious contender to succeed Prime Minister Theresa May, thanks in part to behind-the-scenes lobbying to convince colleagues a Johnson premiership would seriously damage the party in Scotland.

    The whispering campaign against the leading Brexiteer – dubbed “Operation Arse” – burst into the open at the Conservative Party conference last year, when a Scottish Tory source said senior figures were “going to do everything we can” to stop Mr Johnson from becoming leader.
    Five months on, with the Prime Minister having survived votes of confidence within her party and in the Commons, a source said of the plot: “It seems to me that it was a great success. But should it ever need to be reactivated, it certainly can be.”

    I doubt that BoJo has much to fear from Scottish Tories: a bunch of scurvy shameless knaves most of whom will be farewelled and forgotten after the next Westminster election.

  30. Firefly: yep the Greens are surging. 10.2% now in Australia. Maybe approaching double digits in UK – where the first past the post system will surely help their cause.

    Hail the revolution.

    Any day now.

    Any day.

  31. Speaking of UK conservative leaders: compare with our small-minded, coal-waving f-wits:

    “Politicians in the UK have been overwhelmingly united in accepting the scientific consensus on climate change since at least 1989, when Margaret Thatcher – herself a scientist before entering politics – became the first leader of a major nation to call for a United Nations treaty to combat climate change.”

  32. Cannot understand this talk of Boris going to an early election (if he wins the leadership). It is in the Conservatives interest to kill Brexit as an issue before going to an election. Johnson plans to deal with Brexit by actually delivering it (and not in name only) and then using the couple of following years to show how most of the disaster talk was absolute bullshit and implement some trade agreements with the USA, Japan, etc (probably also Australia). All while the EU continues to implode. Conservatives best served by going their full term, not calling a snap election when they’re being eaten alive for betraying their manifesto. I get the feeling that many of you are in some sort of Brexit denial fog still.

    Edit: I should have read more completely. I see now that others are making the same point as mine.

  33. Agree with steelydan @12:14 on Friday. This guy Adrian Beaumont’s guest posts are pretty weak and quite prejudiced.

  34. This Tory clown shoe went on the record demanding a general election when Gordon Brown took the Labour leadership. I wonder if he will so keen if he becomes PM… Fucking hypocrite.

  35. My comment was in relation to Cassandra Goldie’s Guardian article that was linked earlier and you are right the LNP had six years to axknowledge that newstart needed to be raised despite the Libs being power during that time. People want to know why Scott Morrison was trusted with this lazy welfare policy despite it being a key federal government responsibility.

  36. The Greens are failing all over the place, including in Australia, because people see they are supporters of conservatives that are prime environmental destroyers.

  37. Britain-wide voting intentions for Westminster (YouGov):

    Brexit Party 26% (n/c)
    Liberal Democrats 22% (+2)
    Labour 19% (-1)
    Conservatives 17% (-1)
    Greens 8% (-1)
    SNP 4% (-1)
    Plaid Cymru 1% (+1)
    Change UK 1% (+1)

    Released in last 24 hours.

  38. A very different YouGov Scottish subsample:
    SNP 38%,
    Liberal Democrats 19%,
    Conservatives 15%,
    Brexit Party 11%,
    Labour 8%,
    Greens 6%,
    Change UK 2%,
    Women’s Equality Party 1%

    Labour on 8% in Scotland!!

  39. Swamprat, there’s been another YouGov poll since that poll, taken June 13-14, after the Tory leadership vote:

    UK, YouGov poll:

    BREX-EFDD: 24% (-2)
    CON-ECR: 21% (+4)
    LAB-S&D: 21% (+2)
    LDEM-ALDE: 19% (-3)

    +/- 9-10 June 2019

    Field work: 13-14 June 2019
    Sample size: 1,672

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