Who will be the next Conservative leader? That’s the mischievous question posed by ConservativeHome editor Tim Montgomerie in today’s Guardian. Montgomerie, who I recently profiled for the New Statesman, surveyed more than 1,500 Tory members in attempt to offer an answer. The full results haven’t been published yet but Tim has revealed the results from the “Influentials Group” [centre-right journalists, think-tank heads and parliamentarians] within the ConHome panel. As he explains:
Participants were asked who could be the next Tory leader if (for unspecified reasons) Cameron is forced to quit before the next election and who might be Tory leader if he steps down after the next election, sometime during the next parliament.
William Hague (20 votes) was the top choice to take over from Cameron in this parliament, followed by Boris Johnson (19), Michael Gove (16), Jeremy Hunt (12), George Osborne (12) and David Davis (10). Of note, is the low support for Osborne [whose stock has plummeted since the Budget] and the absence of a genuine leader-in-waiting.
Asked who could take over from Cameron in the next parliament, respondents were far more likely to name MPs from the 2010 take. But rather than figures such as Matthew Hancock [Osborne’s former chief of staff] and Rory Stewart [only named by two or three panellists], those surveyed tipped women – and four women in particular – for the top. Priti Patel received 12 votes, with Andrea Leadsom on 10, Anna Soubry on eight and Liz Truss also on eight. As Montgomerie writes, “it’s as if the party is yearning for another Thatcher.”