UK Conservative leadership: Johnson 66.4%, Hunt 33.6%

Boris Johnson to become British PM after a crushing victory in a Conservative members’ vote, but suffers a parliamentary defeat even before becoming PM. 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.

The result of the Conservative members’ ballot for leader was declared on July 23. Boris Johnson defeated Jeremy Hunt by 66.4% to 33.6%, out of the almost 139,000 valid votes cast. Johnson will become British PM on July 24, after Theresa May formally resigns. He has repudiated the Northern Ireland backstop arrangement in Theresa May’s deal. It is very unlikely that an agreement with the European Union can be reached without such a backstop, making a no-deal Brexit more likely.

On July 18, the Commons voted by 315 to 274 to accept an amendment that would make it more difficult for Johnson to prorogue (suspend) Parliament to force a no-deal Brexit. Just one Labour MP voted with the Conservatives while 17 Conservative MPs voted with Labour, and there were notable Conservative abstentions, including current Chancellor Philip Hammond.

While this was a decisive defeat for Johnson’s position, commentator Stephen Bush says that Johnson’s big gamble is not that the Commons will oppose no-deal, it is that the Commons will be unable to agree on something (revoking Brexit, a second referendum, a general election or making Jeremy Corbyn PM) that will actually prevent no-deal occurring. The Commons will rise on July 25 for its summer recess, and is not scheduled to return until September 3. There is a three-week recess for party conferences from mid-September until early October, so there will be less time for Parliament to deal with Brexit. It is unlikely there will be a no-confidence vote before the summer recess.

In five of the seven most recent national polls, Labour had two to six point leads over the Conservatives, but trailed the Conservatives by four points in two YouGov polls. YouGov is the most Conservative-leaning pollster, and it is no coincidence that Labour’s 18%, which I mentioned in my last UK politics article, was from a YouGov poll. There has been some drop in the Brexit party and Liberal Democrat vote, so it has become more of a standard two-party contest.

The most recent ComRes poll had a clear warning for Johnson.  Current voting intentions in that poll were 28% Labour, 25% Conservative, 19% Brexit party and 17% Lib Dem. When asked how they would vote if a new election were held before October 31 with Brexit undelivered, vote shares became 28% Labour, 22% Brexit, just 18% Conservative and 18% Lib Dem. If Brexit is delivered before the next election, vote shares are 32% Conservative, 29% Labour, 18% Lib Dem and 10% Brexit.

Hypothetical polling should be taken with a grain of salt, as people are not good at predicting how they will react to an event.  If Parliament is seen as obstructing Brexit, the Conservatives could do better in the first scenario, although the number of Conservative rebels in such a scenario could itself be damaging. In the second scenario, serious negative economic consequences of a no-deal Brexit would be likely to hurt the Conservatives.

The Brecon & Radnorshire by-election, which I covered in more detail last time, will be held on August 1. A poll has the Lib Dems easily winning with 43%, followed by the Conservatives on 28%, Brexit party 20% and Labour 8%. This result would be a Lib Dem gain from the Conservatives. I will be writing about this by-election result and post-Johnson polls on August 2.

US Democratic presidential primaries and Trump’s re-election prospects

I wrote for The Conversation on July 18 that Joe Biden is leading the Democratic presidential primaries, and is followed by Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren and Kamala Harris. Donald Trump’s ratings are well below where they should be given the strong US economy. Even with the current economy, he will probably lose in November 2020. If the economy tanks, e.g., due to a no-deal Brexit, he is far more likely to lose.

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.

104 comments on “UK Conservative leadership: Johnson 66.4%, Hunt 33.6%”

  1. ‘Donald Trump’s ratings are well below where they should be given the strong US economy. Even with the current economy, he will probably lose in November 2020. If the economy tanks, e.g., due to a no-deal Brexit, he is far more likely to lose.’
    Not the tiniest sliver of a chance that Trump will lose. Not the tiniest sliver of a chance that a no-deal Brexit will be a net negative for either the UK or the USA.

  2. Why on Earth did the UK Conservative party elect a buffoon like Johnson as their leader and PM?

    Simple! Because the Conservatives are completely uninterested about the good running of the country, but just about their political survival. They fear like hell the erosion of Conservative votes by the Brexit Party led by the also buffoon (but charismatic) Farage. So, Johnson is simply the PM that will allegedly stop the bleeding of Conservative votes to the Brexit Party….

    Oh, what about the country you may ask?…. Who cares, the 1% are safe no matter what and the Morons, well, the Morons can be manipulated by the 1% control of the Media….

  3. “Not the tiniest sliver of a chance that a no-deal Brexit will be a net negative for either the UK or the USA.”

    Well there you have it. It’ll all be fine. I’ll let my chums in the Old Dart know they can all quit worrying.

  4. ‘Kakuru says:
    Wednesday, July 24, 2019 at 10:18 am

    “Not the tiniest sliver of a chance that a no-deal Brexit will be a net negative for either the UK or the USA.”

    Well there you have it. It’ll all be fine. I’ll let my chums in the Old Dart know they can all quit worrying.’

    Faffing abaht no laffing mattah.

  5. No surprise at all with Johnson getting elected comfortably. But it is now that his collision with the real world begins. The Conservative/DUP majority will very likely next week be reduced to one. There is a clear majority in the Commons against a no deal Brexit, but as we know, there’s been no majority for other proposals. To me, a no confidence vote seems quite likely, the question is the timing. How long do the Conservatives determined to avoid no deal give Johnson to cut a deal before being willing to support such a motion? A GE would have to be held and the Commons sit again before October 31, so the timing is critical!

    On Trump, his poor poling is very welcome, but we are still well over a year from November 2020 and I’m certainly not willing to predict his defeat yet.

  6. Matt31 says:
    Wednesday, July 24, 2019 at 11:39 am

    Brexit is legislated to happen. A No Deal Exit is going to happen on 31 October unless the EU changes their negotiation position on the Withdrawal Agreement.

    You really think that the UK Labour Party are that stupid to cause an Election when their polling has collapsed and a combination of the Conservatives and Brexit party look like winning any election before a Brexit occurs?

  7. Perhaps Boris will call a GE?

    After all, the British people would just love a chance to support a lying, racist rootrat who has just spent three years doing his best at every divisive turn to destroy May. I assume that Johnson will now demand from Party MPs everything he failed to give to May.

    Will BoofJo run on Remain or will he stick to Brexit? He has held both positions and is committed to nothing other than personal power.

    He is also the third Tory no-hoper PM in three years.
    A GE called by BoofJo?
    What could possibly go wrong?

  8. I think this point has been discussed before. Labour would be expected to support an early election no matter what the polls say, for the same reason why they supported an early election in 2017 even though the polls suggested they would be smashed – because oppositions are expected to take any opportunity to become a government.

    Besides, you never know what can happen over the course of an election campaign, as indeed 2017 demonstrated. One adds, due to FPTP small changes in a party’s vote share (and as importantly its distribution) can have large effects on the results (especially as both the Brexit and Lib dem vote share could be quite soft), so projecting the government from the current polling is necessarily highly uncertain.

    Still I doubt it will reach that point. I expect Parliament will dither inadequately until it runs out of time. Then the ‘fun’ of no-deal Brexit will begin.

  9. Posted this in the last thread before realising this new thread was up…

    ***

    “The Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland get to decide how hard or how soft their border will be. There is nothing natural or inevitable about a hard border following a no deal Brexit. If they think that a hard border would be bad then they will craft the rules to make the border soft. It doesn’t matter whether there is a Brexit deal or not.”

    ***

    I’ve got a better idea: Northern Ireland reunites with the rest of Ireland. Then there’s no land border to worry about at all, the majority vote to remain in the EU by the Northern Irish is respected and upheld, and the Brits can keep their Brexit to themselves. Oh and yeah they can give us the north of our country back while they’re at it.

  10. ‘Simon

    Still I doubt it will reach that point. I expect Parliament will dither inadequately until it runs out of time. Then the ‘fun’ of no-deal Brexit will begin.’

    Muddling through seems to have reached its use-by date.
    But you never know.

  11. Boerwar says:
    Wednesday, July 24, 2019 at 1:11 pm

    “He is also the third Tory no-hoper PM in three years.”

    Great snark – except that they were/are the PM and UK Labour aren’t in power and haven’t been since 2010 and haven’t won an election since 2005. Bit like the Australian Labor Party, really.

  12. Firefox says:
    Wednesday, July 24, 2019 at 1:21 pm

    Typical rookie mistake – just because Northern Ireland voted to remain in the EU doesn’t mean that they wish to leave the United Kingdom.

  13. Firefox

    “……. and the Brits can keep their Brexit to themselves.”

    —————————

    Hang on there who are “the Brits”?

    Scotland voted (65%), i.e. more emphatically than NI, to remain in the EU. It’s the English who want Independence from the EU. Brexit is really Engxit.

    Luckily with boofhead as the new English PM, everyone has more chance of getting what they want: reunited Ireland in EU, independent Scotland in EU, England independent. (Not sure about Wales). 🙂

  14. swamprat says:
    Wednesday, July 24, 2019 at 1:43 pm

    That’s quite funny – they want to be independent but be part of the EU – just explain to me how that independence bit works in the EU?

  15. Bucephalus

    Compared with Westminster, Brussels is rational and respectful. Scotland would have infinite freedom compared with what Westminster offers.

    For example, the Scottish Government wants to introduce rational drug policies but thats “reserved” so a Tory politician, never elected by the Scots can insist on failed policies Westminster policies only.

  16. swamprat says:
    Wednesday, July 24, 2019 at 1:55 pm

    “Compared with Westminster, Brussels is rational and respectful. Scotland would have infinite freedom compared with what Westminster offers.”

    Heh – that’s quality humour.

    Tell me how the Scotland is going to go under the Euro and EU monetary policy?

  17. Bucephalus

    You mean, as compared with Westminster endless and mindless social “austerity” coupled with hollow vanity and wasteful projects, like nuclear arms and HS2?

    There is no requirement for Scotland to join the Euro.

  18. ‘Bucephalus says:
    Wednesday, July 24, 2019 at 1:30 pm

    Boerwar says:
    Wednesday, July 24, 2019 at 1:11 pm

    “He is also the third Tory no-hoper PM in three years.”

    Great snark – except that they were/are the PM’

    Calling them no-hopers is not so much as snark as a measured assessment using Heath as the benchmark for Tory excellence.

  19. Given that in changing PM from May to Johnson there has been a change of “Government” in that Boris will significantly change the direction without any popular vote.

    The Tories + DUP have a majority of two reducing to one if a by-election returns a LibDem next week. If Sinn Fein took their seats, the Tory-DUP regime would be in a minority.

    There are a number of Tory MPs who can’t abide Johnson. There will be unstable times ahead.

    But Johnsons severe unpopularity in Scotland is an opportunity hopefully not to be missed.

  20. swamprat says:
    Wednesday, July 24, 2019 at 2:22 pm

    Sinn Fein won’t take up their seats.

    Under estimate Boris all you like.

    No pattern of that happening, apparently.

  21. Buce

    I know Sinn Fein won’t take their seats.

    I was demonstrating the precariousness of the Tory Government mark 2.

    Obviously the Tory MPs will dread an election at present as they are likely to be destroyed……. but there only has to be a noble few willing to go over the cliff in a no confidence motion. 🙂

    Then a Tory Government mark 3 might be lead by Nigel Farago!! What fun!!

  22. No-one undertaking trade negotiations with England need be under any expectations at all that they will proceed on the basis of truth or good faith.
    Johnson completely lacks both qualities.

  23. Bucephalus is back! Yay! Not so long ago he was peddling climate change conspiracy rubbish using dodgy websites. He copped an absolute caning. It was (quite literally) flogging a dead horse.
    What lost cause is he promoting now?

  24. Kakuru

    “Northern Ireland will never join the Republic of Ireland. Not ever.”

    ——————-

    How can you be so emphatic?

    While “sectarianism” is certainly in decline, the British unionist/ Irish nationalist divide continues. This will continue.

    While “Protestant” is not nor ever has been identical with British unionist nor “Catholic” with Irish nationalism, it is a rough guide.

    The boundaries of NI were drawn by the British Government and arbitrarily imposed at the time of the Treaty. It was intentionally drawn to include a significant minority of Irish nationalist populations, that opposed being included, in order to increase the rump state’s viability.

    If NI was to continue, Those areas, roughly corresponding to the Sinn Fein constituencies, should surely be free to decide whether they wished to be ruled by London or Dublin.

    https://www.irishtimes.com/news/politics/new-light-shed-on-prospect-of-catholic-majority-in-north-1.3891032

    Also, I draw your attention to the 2011 Census.

    “Majority rule’
    In this context, the 2011 census was a “demographic watershed”. For the first time, the proportion of the population declaring themselves as Protestant or brought up Protestant fell below 50 per cent: “In a society characterised by debates over ‘majority rule’, where consent by a majority underpins the legitimacy of the state, the absence of a religious majority is an important symbolic marker,” the report states.
    There are other changes: only two of the North’s six counties, Antrim and Down, now have “significant Protestant majorities”, and only one – Lisburn – of its five official cities.
    “Within a decade, Belfast will almost certainly have a Catholic majority,” it states; in effect, a majority Protestant Northern Ireland “is now restricted to the suburban area surrounding Belfast.”

    https://www.irishtimes.com/news/politics/new-light-shed-on-prospect-of-catholic-majority-in-north-1.3891032

  25. swamprat
    The unionists in NI will never join the Irish Republic. As to whether NI will be carved up, with Sinn Fein-aligned parts of NI joining the South, and the rest remaining under the Crown… that’s another issue. Sounds like a disaster in the making, reminiscent of the Balkans.

  26. swamprat:

    The Tories + DUP have a majority of two reducing to one if a by-election returns a LibDem next week. If Sinn Fein took their seats, the Tory-DUP regime would be in a minority.

    If the by-election returns a LibDem, won’t the Government and various sitting Opposition parties be 321 each?

  27. Kakuru

    I am sure “Unionists” will not join Ireland because they do not identify as Irish.

    Unionist communities are in decline due to a number of things: including an ageing population and emigration to the UK and elsewhere. The nationalist areas are growing and are younger.

    That Irish Times article said the Queens and Ulster Universities now have a majority of Catholic students and that 65% of NI students studying in the UK do not return to NI and a majority of them are Protestant.

    The current statelet is not viable in the long term.

    Hopefully, a new Agreement can be negotiated. It seems that the Tories have little understanding of the Good Friday Agreement and Boris Johnson is a particularly ignorant man.

  28. swamprat
    “The current statelet is not viable in the long term.”

    You may be right. But someone has to actually push for change. Otherwise inertia prevails, and nothing happens (the usual default).

  29. On paper, Bosnia-Herzegovina is not a viable state. But there it is, because the alternatives are even more problematic. That’s Northern Ireland.

  30. caf

    A rough calculation is that the Tory + DUP have 322 (not including Speaker) and the rest are 320, plus 1 vacancy.

    There are 650 – 7 SF = 643 MPs.

  31. Kakuru

    I think small states are not only viable but can be the best.

    The problem with NI is that it has never had legitimacy from a significant percentage of its (unwilling) citizens.

    This may change but Brexit will really strain it. Also if Scotland becomes independent it will also add stress to NI’s status.

  32. I read this on Twitter earlier.
    Found it an interesting scenario.
    __________________

    Theresa May goes to Buckingham Palace to hand in her resignation as PM to the Queen. It’s largely a ceremonial thing BUT the Queen DOES have some legal veto power in some situations and this is one of them. There is a small chance that the Queen could stop the appointment of Boris Johnson. He won on the smallest of margins… if she says no, then he might have to go into a parliamentary vote which given his numbers will likely result in a no-confidence vote and might put his election in jeopardy. There is a strong motivation for the Queen to do this; parts of the United Kingdom (Scotland, Wales etc) went public today, saying that they would secede from the United Kingdom and continue to be partners in the European Union INDEPENDENT of Britain

  33. I heard on the ABC Wireless the other day a proposition from a speaker that he thought the optimum population for a country was between 3 to 7 million. This was based on evidence but i missed noting down who was the speaker. Certainly nordic countries, NZ , Scotland, Ireland fall into that range.

  34. victoria,

    Isn’t it that the Queen could ask him to test his majority in the House? So she could be sure she was getting advice from a PM with Parliamentary support.

  35. Boerwar
    “What are your key elements for a ‘viable’ state?”

    I don’t have elements. I just observe that contentious states (and statelets) exist, despite the assessment by others that such states are not viable.
    Bosnia-Herzegovina is composed of ethnic communities that were once at war, and hatreds persist. But carving up BH is fraught. NI is similar. The status quo is not ideal, but are the alternatives any better? Who is going to be the standard-bearer for dismembering NI?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *