UK Conservative leadership: Johnson firms as next PM

A poll finds nearly three-quarters of Conservative Party members support Boris Johnson to become Britain’s new Prime Minister, as Labour falls to fourth place on voting intention. 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.

An early July YouGov poll of Conservative members gave Boris Johnson a massive 74% to 26% lead over Jeremy Hunt. Ballot papers for the leadership election started being sent out late last week, and must be returned by July 22. The result will be declared on July 23. Johnson’s overwhelming lead in this poll means that the remote chance of a Hunt victory has gone, and Johnson will be the next Conservative leader, and thus British PM.

An early July YouGov poll of general voting intentions gave the Conservatives 24%, the Brexit party 23%, the Liberal Democrats 20% and Labour was fourth with just 18%. An Opinium poll was better for Labour, as they had 25%, followed by the Conservatives at 23%, Brexit at 22% and the Lib Dems at 15%. In both these polls, the combined Conservative and Brexit vote was 45-47%. This makes sense as, in the previous Opinium poll, 48% favoured a “no-deal” Brexit if no deal can pass the Commons by October 31, while 40% wanted more delay and a second referendum.

I believe Labour’s decline can be explained by their positioning on Brexit. At the 2017 general election, Labour adopted a pro-Brexit position, and this helped them to retain seats that voted Leave. As the Brexit debate has played out this year, Labour has been forced to adopt a more pro-Remain stance. However, this stance has cost Labour votes with Labour Leavers, while not being emphatic enough a rejection of Brexit for Remain voters.

Once Johnson becomes PM, the question is whether the Commons will act to prevent a no-deal Brexit. While there has been talk of some Conservative MPs voting against their government to prevent no-deal, defections from Labour MPs in Leave seats could frustrate any attempt to prevent no-deal. In mid-June, such an attempt was defeated by 11 votes because, while ten Conservative MPs voted with Labour, eight Labour MPs voted with the Conservatives. Labour’s weak polling will make many MPs wary of risking a general election by obstructing Brexit.

Brecon & Radnorshire by-election: August 1

A by-election will occur in the Conservative-held seat of Brecon & Radnorshire on August 1, after more than 10% of constituents signed a petition recalling MP Chris Davies following his conviction for making false expenses claims. Despite this, Davies will again be the Conservative candidate.

From 1997 to 2015, Brecon & Radnorshire was a Lib Dem seat. When the Lib Dems collapsed in 2015, the Conservatives won it by a 41% to 28% margin, reversing a Lib Dem 2010 margin of 46% to 37%. The Conservatives retained this seat by a 49% to 29% margin in 2017, an election where the major parties were historically strong. With the collapse of the major party vote since 2017, this by-election is a big opportunity for the Lib Dems to gain from the Conservatives. This by-election will occur nine days into Boris Johnson’s premiership.

Right wins Greek election, left wins Turkish Istanbul mayoral re-election

I wrote on my personal website that the conservative New Democracy won the July 7 Greek election with 158 of the 300 parliamentary seats, ousting the far-left SYRIZA. In Turkey, the left won the June 23 Istanbul mayoral re-election by a much bigger margin than originally.

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.

49 comments on “UK Conservative leadership: Johnson firms as next PM”

  1. Of course the conservatives want a Tory MP, who would have thought? I wonder if the Brits are smart enough to not vote for the idiot if they want to remain a country that is.

    Really sad day for the British as my mother and grandma are from Britain, not a happy camper to see where that country is going (see America)…

  2. The Scottish sub-sample has:

    SNP 45%
    Con. 15%
    LibDem 11%
    Lab. 10%
    Brexit 10%
    Greens. 8%
    Other. 1%

    i.e. the pro-Independence parties (SNP + Greens) = 53%

  3. The Conservative membership may indeed vote for Boris as leader, but that doesn’t necessarily make him PM. He also has to get the support of a majority of the members of the Commons. I expect the Queen will first invite him to try to form a government, without actually swearing him in as PM. Whether he’ll be able to do that will be very much touch-and-go. In a vote of confidence, even the Leavers in Labour will surely vote no, so as to trigger a general election – as they still seem to harbour the delusion that they could win a majority. If he loses the vote a general election seems inevitable, possibly with him sworn in as PM on a strictly “caretaker” basis, like Fraser here in 1975.

  4. ‘Andrew_Earlwood says:
    Wednesday, July 10, 2019 at 9:35 am

    How good is Jeremy Corbyn?’

    Well, he IS a little bit for and a little bit against remain and a little bit for and a little bit against leave.

  5. A ComRes poll out overnight has Labour ahead with 28%, the Tories on 25%, Brexit 19% and Lib Dems 16%.

    If Boris is Tory leader, it’s 32% Tories, 25% Labour, 17% Lib Dems and 14% Brexit. That’s a five-point drop for the Tories and a three-point gain for Labour since a June ComRes poll that gave the Tories a 37-22 lead over Labour with Boris as Tory leader.

  6. Boerwar @ #6 Wednesday, July 10th, 2019 – 10:51 am

    ‘Andrew_Earlwood says:
    Wednesday, July 10, 2019 at 9:35 am

    How good is Jeremy Corbyn?’

    Well, he IS a little bit for and a little bit against remain and a little bit for and a little bit against leave.

    My understanding is he has come out and said he will support a second referendum, and argue for remain in the face of a No Deal Brexit or Tory Brexit.

    https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/jul/09/labour-second-referendum-jeremy-corbyn-brexit

  7. So, assessing British democracy, we have a three year old non-binding and voluntary plebiscite which basically asked people to choose from an idiotically simplistic binary, we have 160,000 Conservative members out of a population of 66 million deciding who is going to be the next prime minister, we have a Government that is clinging precariously to power because of stench-laden deal with a stench-laden group of Belfast misfits, we have a centuries’ old political Union which is coming apart at the seams, we have Boris threatening to prorogue Parliament to enable the executive to ram through the biggest national decision for half a century, we have many dozens of MPs who are flowers in the wind and we have a Labor leader who thinks that maybe another plebiscite might be the solution.

    Fortunately we also have many recent films about how the Brits won World War Two to provide all the thresholds needed to understand what is happening.

  8. I don’t know what’s involved in UK Labour replacing a leader mid-term (is there a mechanism for a challenge/spill, or does the leader have to resign?), but surely Corbyn has to go. The last couple of years have been an opposition’s wet dream, and Labour have spent that time steadily falling further and further behind. I like a lot of what Corbyn stands for, but he’s clearly not fit for the job of opposition leader.

  9. Asha, if there is a challenge to Corbyn, it’s decided by Labour’s membership. After the 2016 Brexit referendum, there was such a challenge and Corbyn was re-elected by 59-41.

    Jack, it’s not up to Boris to show he has the confidence of the Commons, it’s up to the Commons to show it has no confidence in Boris’s govt. The only way to do that is by a formal vote of no-confidence. If that occurs, a new govt can be formed within two weeks. If no govt can be formed in two weeks after a no-confidence vote, a new election is required.

  10. Jack Aranda,

    As Adrian pointed out – your interpretation of the situation when Boris is elected PM by the Party is rather strange and smacks of some sort of Leftist fantasy. Your assumption is that some of the Conservatives will vote against him in a Vote of No Confidence and that the DUP will as well – yeah sure.

  11. If Boris Johnson becomes Prime Minister and goes to a general election or a non-confidence vote in the government leads to one. I predict the result will be another hung parliament, with the Liberal Democrats and the SNP holding the balance of power.

  12. Oxhead, I’m certainly not assuming that the DUP will vote against Boris – but a good few Tories will either vote against him or not bother to turn up, and it only needs a few. Wait and see…

  13. Tristo – there won’t be a GE before Brexit is achieved – why would the Conservatives do that to themselves given the current dire polling (even if polling has a bad name at them moment)?

    Jack A – why would any Tory do that to themselves and risk a General Election? Is just doesn’t make any sense whatsoever.

  14. A couple of Tories have suggested they ‘may’ rebel or even possibly support a vote of no-confidence in the event Johnson ‘moves to promote no-deal’ (or some other form of words to that effect – the details don’t concern me). I wouldn’t hold my breath expecting anything to happen. Bojo can keep those satisfied simply by pretending negotiations are open until the European Council draws the saga to a close or any number of other wheezes, even before they actually ‘consider’ supporting a VONC and decide they don’t much like Corbyn.

    That leads to the other level of unreality in the British debate. To avoid no deal, its not sufficient to not support it, they have to actually ratify the withdrawal agreement (or revoke A50 – but thats even more unthinkable). Even if parliament stirs itself to pass a motion, even one that asks BoJo to ask for an extension, the EU27 will be faced with a UK government who won’t ratify the withdrawal agreement, and their only way forward is to remove the bits it doesn’t like. Its more than likely that they would not agree to an extension (why bother?) and thus they get a no deal Brexit no matter the domestic drama. Its the latest example of the UK thinking it just needs to sort out its domestic position and the EU will rubber stamp what they want.

  15. Simon,

    We will learn whether the EU is committed to punishing the UK for leaving in order to discourage any other country thinking they should leave and push the UK to a No deal Exit or are they actually negotiating in good faith and will make an acceptable Withdrawal Agreement that minimises damage to EU economies trade exposed to the UK. I suspect it is the first.

  16. ‘Bucephalus says:
    Wednesday, July 10, 2019 at 5:30 pm

    Tristo – there won’t be a GE before Brexit is achieved – why would the Conservatives do that to themselves given the current dire polling (even if polling has a bad name at them moment)?’

    Yes. The Conservatives wouldn’t actually want the British voters to decide anything real.

  17. I do not understand British politics at present. A no deal Brexit will unemploy hundreds of thousands. Boris has been elected on a platform that makes Scomo look honest.

  18. Boerwar says:
    Thursday, July 11, 2019 at 7:26 am

    Pretty sure that the Ambassador resigned and it had absolutely nothing to do with Boris.

  19. ‘Bucephalus says:
    Thursday, July 11, 2019 at 2:43 pm

    Boerwar says:
    Thursday, July 11, 2019 at 7:26 am

    Pretty sure that the Ambassador resigned and it had absolutely nothing to do with Boris.’

    Boris refused the opportunity to back his man against that maniac in Washington.
    Boris has no moral compass and no guts so he kowtowed to the West’s best-known sexual predator.
    So no go.

  20. ‘Bucephalus says:
    Thursday, July 11, 2019 at 4:12 pm

    Boerwar,

    So, you believe that the Ambassador resigned because of what Boris, currently a back bencher, did or did not say?’

    May is a Zombie Prime Minister – largely due to the disloyalty, chicanery and bastardry of Johnson, Farage and sundry other wreckers.
    Johnson will trash Hunt.
    The Huntin’, Shootin’ and Fishin’ Fogies (.2% of the British population) will enshrine Johnson.
    Cometh the Hour, Cometh the Man?
    A single public sentence from Boris along the lines of ‘I have Darroch’s back!’ would have saved Darroch. And Johnson’s personal standing. And Britain’s global standing.
    Yeah, nah.
    Presented with a menial’s potential head on a skewer, and confronted with a narcissistic bully, Boris did nowt.
    Boris: all il duce braggadacio, all grandiloquence, all grovel, and no guts.
    The Darkest Hour? The Finest Hour? Dunkirk? The Guernsey Potato Peel Society?
    Pah.

  21. Boerwar says:
    Thursday, July 11, 2019 at 4:28 pm

    “A single public sentence from Boris along the lines of ‘I have Darroch’s back!’ would have saved Darroch. ”

    Rubbish – complete and utter rubbish. The Ambassador realised that his position was no longer tenable and resigned. Absolutely nothing to do with what Boris did or did not say.

    “May is a Zombie Prime Minister – largely due to the disloyalty, chicanery and bastardry of Johnson, Farage and sundry other wreckers.”

    May is responsible for her own demise – she is a Remainer and was trying to get a Brexit deal that was Brexit in name only. How was Farage disloyal to a Remainer PM? He’s not a Conservative Party Member or Member of Parliament.

  22. Bucephalus

    You must try harder.

    Darroch resigned because a venal, nepotistic, narcissist sexual predator who runs an inept and corrosive administration demanded Darroch’s head AND the Conservative establishment, through its de facto leader, Johnson, lacked guts and gumption.

    Great Britain = Little England.

    Darroch is yet another Czechoslovakia in the long decline of Western Civilization and Johnson yet another groveller in the grand tradition of Chamberlain.

  23. B
    As for defending Farage… give me a break.
    He has created nothing. He has constructed nothing. He has built nothing. He wrecks everything he touches.
    Still, good to see that he is your man!

  24. Boerwar says:
    Thursday, July 11, 2019 at 4:50 pm

    Exactly how do you think the UK Ambassador to the US was going to do his job once the Administration had rendered him persona non grata? How? Sit in his office and do nothing? Exactly how is that good for the UK or the individual?

    I wasn’t “defending”Farage – just don’t see how he had anything to do with the circumstances that were being discussed. But, if you must bait me – you say he has built nothing – last I looked his party has just won the most UK seats in the EU Parliament and he looks like achieving his long term goal of a Brexit. Hardly nothing.

    More interesting in my opinion is that the disaster of the loss of the Ambassador is that it was caused by the media publishing classified information that had been illegally gained. The Australian media are currently up in arms because the Australian Government is taking a robust approach to protecting classified information. The Media is claiming that they should be allowed to have illegally gained access to classified information because they can responsibly assess the national interest in what is being disclosed. So the question for the Australian Media is how has the disclosure of the classified information by the UK Media has been in the national interest of the UK? It has been a disaster. What is stopping a similar disaster occuring in Australia? Nothing. Australian has form – the media breached operational security by disclosing the presence of Prince Harry in Afghanistan putting the Prince and the soldiers of his unit at risk and forcing the withdrawal of the Prince from his role as an Artillery Forward Observer. Once again – how was that disaster in the national interest of the UK, Australia, Afghanistan or the NATO forces deployed in Afghanistan?

  25. Bucephalus

    Do stop supping with Trump. It is not becoming.

    At every single bend in the road… that road to the Hell of trashing conservative values, of trashing decency, of trashing democracy, of trashing civilized discourse, of trashing the values of Western Civilization, of trashing time-honoured alliances, of trashing diplomatic mores, of trashing true christian values, the Right has ALWAYS buckled to Trump.

    Johnson is just another in the rich tradition of the Conservatives who want to be Trump’s lickspittles:
    no principles, no moral compass, no ethical standards and no guts.

  26. Bu
    In terms of Omerta we have never had a Government more intent on hiding itself and its doings with crony capitalists, spivs, liars and outright crooks from the public, more ready to promulgate laws and regulations so to do, and more ready to use the organs of state to harrass, punish and silence those who dare to speak out.

    The specific ‘classified’ documents relate to alleged war crimes in Afghanistan and to the related investigation. We are no longer fighting in Afghanistan. There is no security reason to classify every single thing relating to the allegations.

    When every last government document is stamped ‘classified’ you know that the purpose of the classification system is to protect the Government from accountability and from clarity.

    Persecuting whistleblowers and journalists who are risking jail to tell us about war crimes that otherwise we would not even know about is not democracy. It is the road to autocracy.

    Do stop pretending that this is anything other than an exercise in information management to subvert democracy.

    Johnson has already shown that he will say and do anything to subvert democracy. He is unfit for purpose.

  27. “Boris Johnson is under pressure over his role in Sir Kim Darroch’s resignation as British ambassador to Washington, with critics accusing the likely next prime minister of throwing the envoy “under the bus”.
    In a shock move which prompted the senior civil servant at the Foreign Office to call an all-staff meeting to reassure “shaken” diplomats, Darroch announced on Wednesday he could no longer continue in his role following a leak of official cables in which he criticised Donald Trump.
    The Guardian understands that he concluded he could not go on after he watched Tuesday’s Conservative leadership TV debate, where Johnson repeatedly dodged questions about whether he would sack the ambassador if he became PM.

    The latest major Trump resignations and firings
    Read more

    Downing Street is so uncomfortable with the outcome that Theresa May is understood to be considering appointing a new ambassador in her last week as prime minister. That would upend protocol amid concerns Johnson could seek to make a controversial political appointment in the hope of pleasing Trump.
    A broad political consensus has emerged that Johnson’s refusal to back Darroch had made the diplomat’s position untenable. Senior Conservative MPs joined the direct criticism of the leadership contender, describing his conduct as “unedifying” and “contemptible”. Tom Tugendhat, the chair of the foreign affairs select committee, asked: “If you do not support those you put into very difficult positions, what do you think is going to happen?”
    In language that will be viewed as an implicit rebuke of Johnson, Theresa May told MPs: “I hope the house will reflect on the importance of defending our values and principles, particularly when they are under pressure.””
    https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2019/jul/10/kim-darroch-resigns-as-uk-ambassador-to-us-after-leaked-trump-comment

    Will BoJo survive this one?

  28. Boerwar,

    I note you avoided referring to the illegal release of UK Classified information by the media that has caused the resignation of the UK Ambassador and a crisis in Uk-US Relations.
    Tell me again how the media has demonstrated in this case that it can be trusted with Classified information and not damage the National Interest.

  29. ‘Bucephalus says:
    Thursday, July 11, 2019 at 7:50 pm

    Boerwar,

    I note you avoided referring to the illegal release of UK Classified information by the media that has caused the resignation of the UK Ambassador and a crisis in Uk-US Relations.
    Tell me again how the media has demonstrated in this case that it can be trusted with Classified information and not damage the National Interest.’

    You are just going to have to admit that Johnson and Great Britain have just crawled to the a perverted sex crazed narcissist.

    Johnson is, of course, notorious for his long history of arrogant and gratuitous insults to all and sundry.

    Johnson and Trump can dish it out but only Trump has the power to force Johnson to crawl. What’s next? The US demanding that the UK sell the NHS to US hedge funds?

  30. ‘Alpo says:
    Thursday, July 11, 2019 at 7:34 pm

    “Boris Johnson is under pressure over his role in Sir Kim Darroch’s resignation as British ambassador to Washington, with critics accusing the likely next prime minister of throwing the envoy “under the bus”.’

    Johnson is a flat track bully. No guts. No gorm.

  31. Boerwar,

    Tell me again how the media has demonstrated in this case that it can be trusted with Classified information and not damage the National Interest.

  32. ‘Bucephalus says:
    Thursday, July 11, 2019 at 8:19 pm

    Boerwar,

    Tell me again how the media has demonstrated in this case that it can be trusted with Classified information and not damage the National Interest.’

    The big news here is that Swaggering Boof Johnson is a crawling gutless flat track bully.

  33. UK/US….really, who cares. Trump is very thin-skinned. Boris is a coward. Someone inside the FO really wanted revenge on the knight. May looks more ineffectual than usual.

    There are more important things…like the dying fish in Green Valley.

  34. UK Labour appears to be being punished for sitting on the fence and not taking a firm position on Brexit. It’s very similar to Australian Labor being punished for sitting on the fence over Adani. It’s the same politically doomed please-nobody-and-piss-off-everybody approach. Pick a bloody side and fight for it! Show some backbone!

  35. Firefox, I doubt Labor outright opposing Adani would have helped them win seats anywhere, and would have made the situation in Queensland even worse.

    Anyway, there have been three recently released UK polls for those still following this thread.

    BMG (Jul 2-5): 28% Con, 27% Lab, 18% LD, 14% Brex
    YouGov (Jul 9-10): 24% Con, 21% Brex, 20% Lab, 19% LD
    Survation (Jul 10-11): 29% Lab, 23% Con, 20% Brex, 19% LD

    YouGov tends to have Labour’s worst poll results, and Survation their best.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Opinion_polling_for_the_next_United_Kingdom_general_election

  36. The Greek change of government is really because of a reallocation of the 50 bonus seats.
    Syriza’s vote dropped by just about the amount that went to Varufakis ‘splitter’ party. New Democracy grew largely by sucking up votes from other right wing parties, notably New Dawn, who had counter intuitively supported the Syriza government.

    Without the bonus seats,a Syriza led coalition may well have stayed in government. Of course multi party politics is complex and other coalitions with New Democracy may have planned out.

    But the MSM ‘analysis’ of a popular shift from Syriza to New Democracy is not bourne out by the figures.

  37. “Firefox, I doubt Labor outright opposing Adani would have helped them win seats anywhere, and would have made the situation in Queensland even worse.”

    Respectfully, I disagree. It wouldn’t have made the situation worse at all. Coal miners and conservatives in those handful off seats in North Queensland were always going to vote for either the Coalition or a party like PHON or UAP. If Labor planned to win the election off the back of winning the ultra-conservative seats we’re talking about then they were absolutely kidding themselves.

    Labor sitting on the fence annoyed the environmental vandals just as much as it annoyed environmentalists. From their perspective, Labor sitting on the fence indicated some level of opposition. From our perspective, Labor sitting on the fence indicated a level of support for the mine. They pleased nobody and upset everyone. It’s political madness.

  38. “LABOUR and the Tories face being wiped out in Scotland as part of a UK-wide political realignment over Brexit.

    The findings are published today in a new report by the Hope Not Hate charitable trust.

    Their analysis found that the Labour Party would win more seats than any other party in the UK, despite losing 40% of their vote.

    The Tories, however, would haemorrhage MPs, losing 181 of the seats it currently holds, mainly to the Brexit Party but also some to the LibDems and the SNP and a handful to Labour.

    Nigel Farage’s party would move in to second place, winning 135 seats, 124 of them from the Tories.

    In Scotland, the SNP would win all but the four seats currently held by LibDem MPs. Only 48% of people who voted Tory in 2017 now say that they would vote the same way in a new General Election.”

    https://outline.com/eMDmuE

  39. A couple of developments over the last 24 hours or so. Both Johnson and Hunt have stated that the backstop is dead. Given that the EU cannot negotiate on this without the support of Ireland, this makes no deal very likely. But we then have Dominic Grieve strongly hinting he may support a no confidence motion in the government if it meant preventing a no deal Brexit. On Sky News UK last night, a report suggested that enough Conservatives are prepared to support such a motion to bring down the government. A GE looms?

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