Almost a year ago now Prime Minister David Cameron announced that he would not serve a third term as Prime Minister. He’s currently in his second term, after winning a majority government in the 2015 General Election. Since then, there has been plenty of wild speculation about who his successor will be. People tend to say that they expect it to be the Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne, but this is seeming more and more unlikely in light of the high profile resignation former Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, Iain Duncan Smith, which Duncan Smith said was down to Osborne’s ideologically driven welfare cuts.
Since 2015, with his return to Parliament, Boris Johnson has been an increasingly likely contender for Leader of the Conservatives. Polls routinely put him in front for both Conservative Members and the General Public . The other likely contender is Home Secretary Theresa May, who has been embroiled in controversy after controversy due to her role.
Below is a graph of the popularity contenders have.
As you can see, for the majority of contenders, especially the small ones, their popularity changes by about 5% between Conservative Supporters polled and the General Public polled. And then you reach George Osborne. Anathema to the majority of the public, his rate of approval more than halves to just 13.5%. There are more people proportionally in the Conservative Party who are unsure about who their choice of leader would be than there are people on the while who want it to be George Osborne.
The way the Conservative Leadership Election rules mean, however, that if an election has more than two candidates, then MPs vote on who they would like to see as Leader, with the candidate with the least votes being eliminated, and additional rounds of votes are held by MPs until there are two. Once two candidates are in place, the vote then goes to ballot for every member of the Conservative Party, and the candidate with a majority wins. Due to this round, it might mean that May, who of the big three is the lowest ranked amongst Conservatives, and also firmly in the same camp as George Osborne, would lose quickly. From that point, it may be anyone’s game.
The reality of it though is that whoever the final two contenders are, it’s the undecided voters who will choose the person that may become the next Prime Minister.