Boris Johnson beats May and Osborne as public's favourite for next Tory leader

Guy Bentley
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Boris Johnson is public's choice for Tory leader

Boris Johnson is by leaps and bounds the public's choice to replace David Cameron as Tory leader, should he step down part way through a second term.

Earlier this week, Cameron ruled out standing for a third term as Prime Minister, leading many commentators to write that he had effectively fired the starting gun on the Tory leadership race.

In an interview with the BBC's James Landale, Cameron named three possible contenders for the future contest: Theresa May, Boris Johnson and David Cameron. While the decision to pre-announce his electoral sell-by date was widely seen as a blunder, 55 per cent of the public said it was the right thing to do.

While Cameron is far from certain to win this year's General Election, many senior Tories are already casting their focus to life after Cameron.

According to pollster YouGov, 28 per cent of the public wants the London Mayor to take over the Conservative Party if Cameron steps down.

His next closest rival, Theresa May, trails on 13 per cent, while just eight per cent of the public think George Osborne should become the next Tory leader. Boris Johnson has a massive lead over his possible opponents. More than two-thirds of people think Boris Johnson is likeable, compared with May and Osborne, who scored 24 and 20 per cent respectively.

Johnson will return to parliament this election as the MP for Uxbridge. He remains popular not only with the public but also with the Conservative grassroots.

The website Conservative Home polled Tory members and found 22 per cent wanted Boris to succeed David Cameron as leader. May scored 20 per cent while Osborne trailed in fifth place at nine per cent.

Johnson has reportedly been courting small groups of Conservative MPs at his London home. Downing Street is said to have no objections to the gatherings, so long as Boris fights hard for Cameron's second term.

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