Defence Secretary Ben Wallace tops key poll of who Tory members want as next party leader


Ben Wallace tops key poll of who Tory members want as next leader to replace Boris after Defence Secretary’s popularity surges during Ukraine war – while Penny Mordaunt is also highly-favoured but Rishi Sunak plummets down rankings after tax row

  • Ben Wallace tops survey of Tory members by ConservativeHome website
  • Defence Secretary’s popularity has soared during Russia’s invasion of Ukraine
  • He also tops monthly poll of Cabinet ratings – with Boris Johnson bottom again

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace has topped a key poll of Tory members over who should replace Boris Johnson as the party’s next leader.

The Cabinet minister just pipped his predecessor, Penny Mordaunt, to top spot in the survey by the influential ConservativeHome website.

Foreign Secretary Liz Truss was the third most-favoured among Tory members to take over from the Prime Minister.

But Chancellor Rishi Sunak – who for a long time was viewed as the most likely successor to Mr Johnson – has dramatically fallen out of favour with the Conservative grassroots following the controversy over his family’s finances and tax affairs.

With Mr Johnson still under pressure over Partygate and now facing another Conservative sleaze scandal, the survey results will be eyed carefully by those hoping to replace the PM.

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace topped a key ConservativeHome poll of Tory members over who should replace Boris Johnson as the party's next leader

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace topped a key ConservativeHome poll of Tory members over who should replace Boris Johnson as the party’s next leader

Mr Wallace, pictured at yesterday's British Grand Prix at Silverstone, has dramatically increased in popularity during the Ukraine crisis

Mr Wallace, pictured at yesterday’s British Grand Prix at Silverstone, has dramatically increased in popularity during the Ukraine crisis

Penny Mordaunt

Rishi Sunak

Trade minister Penny Mordaunt was the next most popular among Tory members as a future leader – but Chancellor Rishi Sunak has seen his popularity plummet in recent months

Of the 755 people surveyed, Mr Wallace – who is at the forefront of Britain’s response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine – was backed by more than 15 per cent of respondents. 

His popularity has dramatically increased since Vladimir Putin launched his barbaric assault on Russia’s neighbour, despite the Defence Secretary having fallen victim to a hoax call by Russian imposters in the early weeks of the conflict.

When ConservativeHome last asked Tory members who they favoured being the party’s next leader, in December last year, Mr Wallace wasn’t even named by those surveyed.

Mr Wallace also topped a separate monthly ConservativeHome survey of Tory members when they were asked how satisfied they were with the performance of Cabinet ministers.

He had a net satisfaction rating of more than 85 per cent, while Mr Johnson remained at the bottom of the table for the second month running on -21 per cent.

Ms Mordaunt, who was Mr Wallace’s predecessor at the Ministry of Defence and is now a trade minister, was the next most popular among Tory members as a future leader.

When Mr Johnson faced a vote of no confidence in his leadership last month, the Royal Navy reservist set tongues wagging with her less than fulsome support for the PM.

She was also said to have been put on ‘resignation watch’ by Downing Street ahead of the crucial vote on the Mr Johnson’s future.

Ms Mordaunt was just ahead of Ms Truss, with the Foreign Secretary now third in the ratings after having topped the December poll.

Mr Wallace also topped a separate monthly ConservativeHome survey of Tory members when they were asked how satisfied they were with the performance of Cabinet ministers

Mr Wallace also topped a separate monthly ConservativeHome survey of Tory members when they were asked how satisfied they were with the performance of Cabinet ministers

The PM remained at the bottom of the table for Cabinet satisfaction ratings for the second month running, with a net score of -21 per cent

The PM remained at the bottom of the table for Cabinet satisfaction ratings for the second month running, with a net score of -21 per cent

However, her fall was not as dramatic as Mr Sunak’s after the Chancellor had been backed by 20 per cent of members six months ago but now only enjoys the support of little more than six per cent.

Between the two surveys, Mr Sunak has seen a huge row over the disclosure that his billionaire heiress wife, Akshata Murthy, was enjoying non-dom tax status.

The Chancellor has also been fined, along with Mr Johnson, as part of the police investigation into Partygate.

And he has also faced long periods of criticism for not doing enough to help struggling Britons through the cost-of-living crisis.

Tom Tugendhat, the chair of the House of Commons’ foreign affairs committee, has not ruled out a future leadership bid and was the fourth most-favoured Conservative MP.

He came ahead of leading Tory rebels Jeremy Hunt, the former health secretary, and Steve Baker, the former Brexit minister, as well as Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi.

Mr Zahawi is viewed as a possible ‘unity candidate’ to replace Mr Johnson, should be toppled by those MPs looking to oust him from Number 10.

Source

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