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Westlake Legal Group > Next Tory leader

Our final Next Tory Leader survey. Johnson 73 per cent, Hunt 27 per cent – say those members who have voted.

Westlake Legal Group Screen-Shot-2019-07-20-at-06.15.31 Our final Next Tory Leader survey. Johnson 73 per cent, Hunt 27 per cent – say those members who have voted. ToryDiary Next Tory leader Jeremy Hunt MP Highlights ConservativeHome Members' Panel Boris Johnson MP   We explained when reporting our second Next Tory Leader survey of this contest, published earlier this month, why it may be a less accurate guide to the result than the first.

In a nutshell, it’s because voting in the leadership election has been staggered out over the best part of a month – rather than concentrated in a single day, as a general election is (with the exception of postal votes, which were roughly a fifth of the total in 2017).

So if the bulk of Party members voted early, it follows that our first survey, the responses to which came in just before most ballot papers arrived, is likely to prove most accurate. And the reservations that we applied to that second survey therefore also apply to this third and final one.

It shows Boris Johnson on 73 per cent and Jeremy Hunt on 27 per cent among those who claim to have voted (see the graph above).  But, as we say, its accuracy will depend on what proportion of respondents voted early and late.

Furthermore, people don’t always recall accurately how they’ve voted – that’s a general feature of political polls and surveys.  So it could be that many respondents who say they voted for Johnson actually voted for Hunt, and vice-versa.

None the less and despite all this, the thrust of every poll and survey taken during this contest shows Johnson on course for a landslide.  Our first survey found Johnson on 67 per cent.  Our second showed him on 71 per cent. This third one nudges his total among those who have voted to 73 per cent.  A YouGov poll published during the early days of voting found him at 74 per cent.

So in short, all the available evidence suggests that Johnson will win overwhelmingly when the result is declared on Tuesday.  If there is a hidden army of switchers to Hunt, it is extremely well concealed.

But these findings have a sting in the tail for the front-runner.  A Johnson landslide is now expected.  So if one doesn’t materialise – and Hunt gains as much as say 40 per cent or over – the result will disappoint the front-runner.

That would have implications for his Cabinet reshuffle and the start of his Government.  For example, Hunt would have more political space to make demands.  Johnson might in such circumstances have to make him Deputy Prime Minister or First Secretary of State.  His government is set for a bumpy ride in any event.  A closer-than-expected result would make it even bumpier.

Now for some footnotes.

Among all respondents – which include those who hadn’t voted when the survey went out on Friday – Johnson is on 72 per cent and Hunt on 28 per cent.  So there’s next to no difference between the view of the contest of all those who replied to our survey, and all those who claim, in those responses, to have voted.

94 per cent of all those who replied to the survey said that they have voted.

Of those respondents overall who claim not to have voted yet, 65 per cent are for Johnson and 35 per cent for Hunt.  That seems to show a sense among some Johnson supporters that their man will win whether they cast a vote or not.

96 per cent of Johnson’s supporters claim to have voted, and 91 per cent of Hunt’s.

Over 1100 Party members responded to the survey.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

John Penrose: The conventional wisdom about this leadership election is wrong. Hunt’s spending plans are neither unaffordable nor irresponsible.

John Penrose is MP for Weston-super-Mare and a Northern Ireland Office Minister.

If you listen to the sober-sided, serious economists at the Institute for Fiscal Studies, or to the Chancellor Philip Hammond himself, you’d think the Conservative leadership election is a horrible bidding war of doolally spending promises from Jeremy Hunt and Boris Johnson. Has the party of sound money lost its soul? Betrayed its heritage? Are Margaret Thatcher and Milton Friedman spinning in their graves as leadership contenders try to out-Corbyn each other with unaffordable spending promises?

Well no, not really. I can’t speak for Boris Johnson but, as someone who’s been involved in a lot of Jeremy Hunt’s policy development work, that’s not what we’re doing at all.

Let’s start with the charge that, if it was right to introduce austerity in 2010, we should do the same for Brexit in 2019. Otherwise we aren’t being consistent.

But the problem in 2019 isn’t the same as 2010. Brexit isn’t the banking crisis, thank goodness. And if the problem is different, the answers should be too.

By 2010, Gordon Brown was trying to keep the economy going with huge increases in public spending, paid for with ballooning debt. Something like one pound in every four the Government spent had to be borrowed, to be repaid by taxpayers later. If we’d carried on like that, pretty soon the country’s credit card would have been snipped up and the bailiffs would have been knocking at the door. So we simply had to throttle back, to stop spending money we hadn’t got.

But today is different. Public spending isn’t ballooning and borrowing is under control. We’re living within our means, and there’s even headroom for a bit more spending if we’re careful. We’ve come a long way, and it hasn’t been easy. You can understand why Hammond doesn’t want the next Prime Minister to blow it.

What are today’s problems, if they’re different from 2010? The biggest is that some – although certainly not all – firms are putting off growth-creating investments until after the Brexit fog has cleared. And that no-one knows whether our trade with the EU will be easy or awful once we’ve left.

So it makes sense to spend a bit of money to promote economic growth. Post-Brexit Britain needs a stronger, more dynamic, more energetic, turbocharged economy, so we’re prepared for the challenges of life outside the EU. And Jeremy Hunt’s plans to cut corporation tax to 12 and a half per cent, increase investment allowances and exempt small high street firms from business rates would do exactly that. They would spark economic renewal and investment in UKplc, making us more resilient in economic shocks and recessions, and more productive and efficient so we can grow faster too.

In other words, it’s OK to use different answers in 2019 than in 2010. But what about the charge that we’re making the same mistake as Brown, by spending and borrowing unaffordably?

Hunt is on pretty firm ground here, because he agrees we’ve got to keep the national debt falling relative to the size of our economy. That means borrowing can’t balloon, and we’ll always be able to repay our debts. And his business career helps here too, because his plans to turbocharge post-Brexit Britain’s economy would mean we’d be investing to grow. They’re sensible investments in our economic future, not pale copies of unworkable, hard-left Corbynomic plans.

Nor is he expecting to do everything at once. We’d need to raise defence spending progressively over five years, for example, to allow time to plan. Otherwise you’d simply waste money on the wrong things.

The same goes for fixing illiteracy. That will take ten years, building on the huge progress over the last decade that has seen more pupils being taught in good or outstanding schools than ever before.

And some of the plans would only be temporary, too. The pledge to help farmers adjust to a post-Brexit world has to be a hard-headed, short term plan to help re-equip machinery, buildings and breeding for new global markets, for example. Not a woolly, open-ended subsidy.

The plans have got to be about changing things, so we’re ready for a new world. Not expensively preserving the way they were before we voted to leave. Transformation and preparation, not status quo. But, for Hunt’s proposals at least, they are sound, practical, affordable ideas. And, most important of all, they’re thoroughly Conservative too.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Elena Bunbury and Ali Fazel: Why we’ve switched to Hunt

Elena Bunbury is Director of Operations for 1828 and Vice Chair Communications for LGBT+ Conservatives. Ali Fazel is Secretary of University of Birmingham Conservatives and Chair of Birmingham Conservative Policy Forum (CPF).

Young people are becoming more and more liberal, whether it be the natural progression of young people being more socially accepting, or the desire held amongst most to keep hold of more of their first few pay cheques in the adult world.

Coming from the liberal background of Mayor of London, to fully submerging himself in the move away from paternalism, Boris Johnson seems like the clear choice for two young Tory liberals. However, there is a reason we have both made the #SwitchToHunt.

At a time when we face so much political uncertainty, attempting to enact the will of so many people in the turbulent time of Brexit, we need clear, strong political guidance. We need someone we can trust to carry out such a politically sensitive task. This person is Jeremy Hunt.

Coming from a background of entrepreneurship, Jeremy is just the candidate we need to get the deal done. He is no stranger to tough negotiations, but also possesses the diplomacy which has been so lacking throughout this process. Make no mistake, the new Prime Minister will be the one to enact Brexit, and that will be the legacy they are left with, but can Johnson really be trusted to do so?

Initially our views leaned towards him; he was the man of Brexit. It was all he had spoken about for over a year, and it led to his resignation. However, his inability to state his plan left us both with doubts. Time and time again Johnson has been asked about his plans for leaving the European Union, something which Theresa May has shown is incredibly difficult. However, the closest he has got to a clear outline is no more than cheap soundbites without actual substance.

The real turning point for us was Hunt’s well laid out ten-point plan, which stated not only his intentions to leave, but also crucially his plan on how to do so. He showed that although he may have been quieter on the subject, he was just as passionate, if not more prepared.

We are approaching a general election, and for the sake of our party, whose reputation is dwindling, we not only need to make sure Brexit is a success, but that it unites not only our party, but the entire Union.

Recent polls by YouGov have shown that amongst the public, Hunt is considerably more popular with 41 per cent declaring him their preferred successor, compared to a mere 29 per cent backing Johnson. It’s essential that party members vote with prudence. A general election is looming, and we need to ensure we put forward the candidate who is nationally respected.

Pushing entirely towards a No Deal Brexit, as Johnson proudly promotes, cannot be the only option. We not only have to think of the people who voted Leave, but also the people in our fantastic Union who will be impacted every day because of it. Hunt has spoken passionately about the need to reach a deal for the sake of the unity of the Union, but he has also made it clear he has not taken No Deal off the table. This is yet again another sign of his career in business, a smart negotiator knows you do not take cards off the table until forced to do so.

It is time to yet again inspire the nation to get behind a leader who they can trust in, a leader who they feel confident will change their lives for the better, and with Johnson’s continually politically insensitive language and offensive outdated comments, he is not the person to do so. He lacks the integrity to be open and honest about his controversial past and voting intentions. Instead we are met with a series of poor attempts to dodge questions, mixed with a pantomime bravado which could overshadow any journalists’ attempts to reach integrity from him. What Britain needs now is not a showman, it’s a statesman: that’s why we believe it #HasToBeHunt.

It may seem odd that we have switched to Hunt. As explained, our liberal policies do fall more in line with his opponent’s. However, that shows the crossroads we have reached. That we are so fearful of a Johnson leadership, and yet more divisiveness and underhand comments, that we have put policy aside for the sake of backing someone honest, experienced and – most importantly – trustworthy.

We want to fight an election on policy and trust. Trust in our leader, trust in our plan, and trust in our great nation that Hunt speaks so proudly about. Unlike his opponent, he is not just defined by Brexit. Bear in mind that, once we leave the EU, we need dynamic leadership, someone not afraid to have the robust debates to fit our generation’s policy agenda. Only Hunt seems to understand that.

Therefore inevitably, we are proud to have made the switch to Hunt, because we want a prime minister who isn’t afraid to debate, doesn’t have baggage and, most importantly, will get the job done.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Iain Mansfield: Brexit by October 31. Stop using the Left’s language. And stand for skilled workers. Essentials for our next Prime Minister

Iain Mansfield is a former senior civil servant, winner of the Institute of Economic Affairs Brexit prize and a Conservative councillor candidate. He writes in a personal capacity.

Our next Prime Minister will take office at the most challenging time since the 1970s. Not only is there Brexit – an issue of fundamental national importance, that has destroyed the last two Prime Ministers and poses an existential challenge to the future of the Conservative Party – but the old political assumptions are changing. Across the West, traditional voter coalitions are shifting, as citizens reject centrist compromises. Flatlining productivity, unaffordable houses and millions of voters feeling abandoned, either culturally or economically, are just some of the challenges they will face.

Many of those who voted for David Cameron in 2010 are lost to the party, alienated by Brexit. In Britain today, age and education level are better predictors of a person’s vote than class. To win a general election, our next Prime Minister must forge a new coalition of voters that unites the traditional Tory shires with the left-behind Leave voters in the Midlands and North. Even more importantly, they must deliver authentic right-wing policies that address the causes of ordinary working people’s dissatisfaction. People want change and, if the Conservative Party does not deliver it, they are likely to seek answers in the flawed blandishments of Jeremy Corbyn’s socialism.

In that context, there are three essentials that our next Prime Minister must prioritise for the good of the people, the nation and the party:

  • Leave the EU by 31 October, on WTO terms if needed.
  • Openly champion conservative values rather than speaking the language of the left.
  • Reposition the party as the natural home of the skilled working and lower middle classes.

Leave the EU by 31 October, on WTO terms if needed

Not only is delivering on the outcome of the referendum a democratic imperative, it is vital for the continued existence of the party. Recent polling shows that, if we have not left the EU, the Conservatives are likely to suffer devastating losses in a general election; these figures could be even worse if large numbers of members, councillors or even entire associations defect to the Brexit Party. Many members have held on over the last few months purely out of hope that the next Prime Minister would deliver where May failed: another betrayal in October would see these members permanently lost.

Leaving with a deal is preferable, if some changes to the backstop can be agreed and Parliament will pass it. If not, as I have argued previously on this site, we have nothing to fear from No Deal. Preparations for such should be put into top gear on the first day in office. The Prime Minister must make clear that they will under no circumstances ask for an extension; and that they are, if needed, prepared to systematically veto any measure put forward by the EU on regular business if the UK is for some reason kept in. While every effort should be made to secure a deal, if it cannot be reached, Parliament must be faced with the simple choice of permitting a WTO exit or voting no confidence in the Prime Minister – a gamble, admittedly, but one that is preferable to another disastrous extension.

Openly champion conservative values rather than speaking the language of the left

In recent years too many Conservative politicians have allowed our opponents to define the playing field. We cannot beat the socialists by adopting the language and assumptions of socialism. Our next Prime Minister must stop feeding the narrative of identity, grievance and division, with its assumption that an individual’s potential is defined by their characteristics, that so-called ‘burning injustices’ are solely the responsibility of the state to address, and that the government always no best.

Changing the narrative will be a long endeavour. The systematic appointment of those with conservative values into key ministerially appointed positions; an authentically right-wing approach to policy making in Whitehall; and the withdrawal of state funding from the network of organisations that maintain the left’s grip on the policy narrative are essential. But over and above this, the Prime Minister must be willing to personally stand up and champion individual liberties and freedoms; to condemn progressive authoritarianism and to be visibly proud of Britain, our culture and the rich global heritage of our citizens.

Reposition the party as the natural home of the skilled working and lower middle classes

Young, metropolitan graduates may once have been natural Conservatives, but no longer. There is little hope of reversing this in the immediate aftermath of Brexit. Instead of squandering our effort here, our new Prime Minister should instead make the party the natural home of the skilled working and lower middle classes, particularly in the midlands and north.

Such voters have a natural affinity to the traditional conservative values of low tax and individual liberty, but also greatly value and rely day-to-day onn strong public services. This places the Conservatives in a difficult position after a decade of austerity: Labour made hay campaigning on cuts to police numbers and falls in per pupil spending in 2017. But how to fund significant increases in core services without raising taxes or alienating core Conservative voters, such as via the disastrous proposals on social care in the 2017 manifesto?

To find the funding the next Prime Minister must be bold enough to slay the progressive sacred cows that soak up billions annually in public funding. Three immediately spring to mind:

With the additional £15 billion plus a year, the Prime Minister could at a stroke increase police funding by 25 per cent (£3 billion), boost school funding per pupil by 20 per cent (£8 billion) and increase spending on social care by 20 per cent (£4 billion). And then split the proceeds of further growth between public services and tax cuts.

As well as this, we should champion the interests of the high street, enterprise and small businesses and oppose crony corporatism. Multinational companies that make use of aggressive tax avoidance, abuse their market position or actively work against UK sovereignty should not enjoy government grants, procurement or time in No. 10. Fundamentally, our next Prime Minister should spend more time listening to the Federation of Small Businesses and less time listening to the CBI.

Conclusion

As members, we have two candidates set before us. Both are able politicians and tested leaders who represent the best the Parliamentary party has to offer. As we assess who should be not just our next leader, but our Prime Minister, we should do so against their ability to deliver these vital elements.

Both have committed to delivering Brexit by October 31 – but which one has the ability, the genuine will and the courage to do so by any means necessary? Both are true-blue Conservatives – but which one will truly champion our values, taking the battle to our adversaries with the eloquence and conviction of a Thatcher or a Churchill? Both recognise the importance of reaching out to new voters – but which one can devise and push through the policies needed to unite the Tory shires with the Leave voters of the north? Consider carefully and cast your vote.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

33 per cent? 45 per cent? 71 per cent? What’s the true leadership election turnout?

The results of our latest survey of Party members, published yesterday, appear to have produced an interesting reaction.

This week’s survey asked for the first time how many members have already voted. Seventy-one per cent of those on our panel say they have cast their vote, which if the voting intentions are accurate would make it mathematically impossible for Jeremy Hunt to win via a late surge.

Shortly after that finding was published a range of leaked official turnout figures started to crop up. Beth Rigby of Sky News was told the figure was ‘less than half’ by three sources, including one who claimed the figure was lower than 33 per cent. The BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg had been tipped off sufficiently firmly to assert that ‘Fewer than half of Tory members have so far voted in the leadership contest and sent back their ballot to party HQ – the assumption that they would all make up their mind in a flash has turned out to be wrong’. Francis Elliott of The Times has also been told ‘fewer than half’.

In short, there is quite some discrepancy. At one end is our survey figure of 71 per cent. At the other end is that Rigby source claiming somewhere below 33 per cent. And the other Rigby sources, Kuenssberg’s source and Elliott’s source, who say ‘fewer than half’ are in the middle somewhere – let’s assume around 40-49 per cent.

The reasons such a discrepancy might arise are interesting in their own right, but the truth is also politically important. It alters the tone and nature of the rest of the contest, if you believe either that most selectors have voted or most are still up for grabs.

The source of the numbers is key. It seemed likely from Rigby and Kuenssberg’s reports that their figures had come from inside the Conservative Party’s structure. Electoral Reform Services are the outside company contracted to run the leadership ballot, and while the election is formally overseen by the 1922 Committee, ERS’ contract is with – and bills paid by – the Conservative Party itself. So it wouldn’t be surprising to learn that ERS would provide regular progress reports on the running of the ballot to its client – not, of course, on how people are voting (the votes for each candidate are yet to be counted), but on whether people are doing so, whether ballot papers are being successfully received by post, and so on. On initially hearing the BBC and Sky numbers yesterday, I assumed that the figures were from just such a progress report, and were therefore most likely to be leaking from somewhere inside CCHQ or somebody in turn briefed by them.

Elliott’s report in The Times today confirms this assumption to be correct, specifying the source as ‘the internal turnout assessment passed to CCHQ from the Electoral Reform Society’.

By contrast, the ConservativeHome survey is a survey of Party members on our panel – 1,319 of whom answered the turnout question.

Anecdotally, we have other sources who echo it. An experienced organiser within the Johnson campaign tells us that in their area the Get Out The Vote operation has so far turned out 75 per cent of Johnson supporters. A Cabinet minister who has been following their local members’ decision-making estimates association turnout to be 80 per cent. A senior member of the voluntary party estimates the national figure to be around 70 per cent.

Unsurprisingly, we believe our figure to be closer to the truth than reports of only a third, or a minority, of votes having been cast, and it seems that various people closely engaged with the process tend to agree.

But the discrepancy still exists, and must be accounted for. How has it arisen, and might it be possible to navigate the various numbers to get at what is really going on?

We can dismiss the baseless allegations of untruth that have become all-too common. We do not know if any of the journalists reporting the contents of an ERS briefing have seen a document, or simply been told of it, but there’s no reason to believe that they are doing anything other than accurately reflecting information from sources they trust. Let’s engage with all the numbers on the basis of good faith.

Looking at our figure first, are there factors which could lead the ConservativeHome survey figure to be too high?

Bluntly, yes: it’s a survey, not a weighted poll, and by definition a Party member reading this site and subscribed to our panel is likely to be somewhat more politically engaged than the average member. Plus, we’re sending them regular surveys about the leadership election, which could spur some to vote by the simple effect of reminding them.

We won’t be catching negative answers from people who are ill, on holiday, et cetera. And anyone getting two ballot papers – as a member of two associations – but obeying the rules and only voting once will appear as a voter in our numbers but would only appear as 50 per cent turnout (one vote cast, the other not) in the ERS/CCHQ figures.

But even after considering those selection effects, the fact remains that our survey’s findings about opinions within the Conservative grassroots tend to map pretty closely to YouGov’s polling of the membership, so the panel doesn’t seem to be so wildly disproportionate as to account for discrepancies as large as those listed above.

So might there be factors which make the reported ERS figures an underestimate of the true turnout? Again, yes there are.

First, the ERS reports to CCHQ are effectively sampling an earlier stage of the election than our survey. It’s a postal ballot, so included in our figures are people who have recently posted their vote who won’t appear on the ERS tally until their ballot papers have been delivered, separated from personal data (eg the donation slips which were sent out at the same time) and tallied up. There could be a lag of two or three days in that process, which is not inconsiderable in the course of a week’s voting time.

Then there’s the question of how often the ERS submit these reports, and what data they are compiled from. If they’re daily, do they use the tally from the previous day’s postal delivery? Or are they less than daily? Again, this is a question of when these snapshots effectively date from.

We also don’t know when the reports being cited were submitted to CCHQ – they might be from yesterday (ie Wednesday’s tally data) or earlier. Indeed, that could even account for the difference between ‘less than a third’ and ‘under half’. If Rigby’s lower end source was citing earlier numbers than those who gave a mid-range number to her, Kuenssberg and Elliott, they could both be accurate but for different points in the last week – just as our survey, conducted on Wednesday, will include voters who won’t make it into the ERS tally until today or tomorrow.

There’s another effect that I suspect is at play. We’ve all put a letter in an envelope, stamped and addressed it, then left it on the side until we next know we’ll be going past a post box. There are likely to be quite a lot of Conservative leadership election votes in exactly that limbo right now. For good reason they won’t appear on the ERS tally of votes received, but I’d guess quite a few of those voters would regard their vote as having been ‘cast’ – on the basis that they’ve put the X in the box and it’ll be sent in very soon. They aren’t in the ballot box, but they’re out of contention for the candidates to win over – take your pick of whether they should be counted as having voted or not.

In short, it seems likely that our figure might be over by a bit, but that the low-ball claims are likely under by a decent bit – or, in the case of the lowest, by a lot. They aren’t necessarily untrue; instead, in effect the point in the race they illustrate is earlier on than the snapshot provided by the survey.

Of course, in the long-run this will prove academic. But for now it matters – and it’s worth noting that currently the interests of both leadership campaigns and CCHQ itself are all aligned in emphasising that turnout is lower than expected. Hunt and Johnson must activate their supporters as much as possible and avoid either depression or complacency setting in, while the Party’s authorities want to deliver a high-turnout leadership election to display their own effectiveness and deliver the new Prime Minister the largest possible grassroots mandate. Those conditions, more than anything else, underlie this debate on where the race currently stands.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

71 per cent of Johnson supporters and 58 per cent of Hunt supporters have already voted, according to our survey.

Westlake Legal Group Screen-Shot-2019-07-11-at-08.12.45 71 per cent of Johnson supporters and 58 per cent of Hunt supporters have already voted, according to our survey. ToryDiary Next Tory leader Jeremy Hunt MP ConservativeHome Members' Panel Conservative leadership election 2019 Boris Johnson MP   So say Boris Johnson supporters in our survey published today, according to a turnout filter that we have applied to the results.

Westlake Legal Group Screen-Shot-2019-07-11-at-08.19.03 71 per cent of Johnson supporters and 58 per cent of Hunt supporters have already voted, according to our survey. ToryDiary Next Tory leader Jeremy Hunt MP ConservativeHome Members' Panel Conservative leadership election 2019 Boris Johnson MP

And so say Jeremy Hunt supporters if the same filter is applied.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Lord Ashcroft: My choice for the next Prime Minister

It wasn’t supposed to be like this. Like most Conservatives, I wanted Brexit wrapped up and out of the way under Theresa May’s stewardship, allowing a new leader to begin a new chapter, reinvigorate the Party and – at long last – change the subject.

So much for that. Far from drawing a line under the unhappy recent history of British politics, the new Prime Minister will face exactly the same problem as his predecessor. He will also face the same parliamentary maths and apparently, despite the personnel changes in Brussels, the same stance from the EU. The first question on the minds of many Conservative Party members as they ponder over their ballot papers, then, will be who is finally going to get Brexit signed, sealed and delivered.

For Boris backers, the answer is clear: we must leave on 31st October, come what may, do or die. Only by convincing the EU that we are serious about this will they move – and if they don’t, we’ll be out. There is no other way to escape the “hamster wheel of doom”. Hold your horses (or your hamsters), say the Boris-sceptics: now is a time for cool heads and calm negotiation, not heroic ultimatums. Plan for no deal, but talk.

The problem with choosing between these two approaches is that there are so many unknowns in both scenarios. We don’t know how, when it comes to it, the EU will respond to new Prime Ministerial overtures, or what they would do if they believed a No Deal Brexit really was imminent. We don’t know how any resulting deal would differ from Theresa May’s thrice-rejected agreement, or whether it would fare any better in the Commons. We don’t know what would happen if it were defeated, and it is not yet clear exactly how No Deal would come to pass with Parliament determined to prevent it.

It’s easy to see how another clash between Government and Parliament – whether over another unpassable deal, or an administration determined to leave without one – could bring about an early general election. Neither candidate wants one, but even if they get their wish, the winner will have to face the electorate eventually. After all, by Christmas we will be halfway through the five-year term.

The next question for the Tory selectorate, then, is who is best placed to lead them to victory when the time comes. There is no clear answer here either, as my research earlier in the week showed. Boris has the greater appeal to those tempted by the Brexit Party – indeed, when we asked people how likely they were to vote for each party under each of the two potential new Prime Ministers, Nigel Farage’s latest outfit was in fourth place under Boris Johnson, but a close second under Jeremy Hunt. 2017 Tories and Labour Leave voters were also more drawn to the idea of a Boris-led Conservative Party. But voters as a whole preferred Jeremy Hunt, not least because Remainers, including Conservative Remainers, were very much more open to the idea of supporting him than his opponent.

As things stand, it looks unlikely, to say the least, that at the next election the two biggest parties will account for 82 per cent of the vote, as they did two years ago. The winner, then, will be the party that most successfully keeps its 2017 coalition from unravelling. This means Conservatives can’t afford to lose people at either end. In practical terms, this boils down to the following question: which is greater – the number of Remain-voting potential supporters the Tories would lose (or fail to win back) under Boris, or the number of Brexit Party temptees who would abandon the Tories (or fail to return) under Jeremy Hunt? Which candidate would be more likely to win back Canterbury and Twickenham while holding onto Mansfield and Stoke? There is no clear answer, and the doubt is doubled when you ask whether such an election would be happening when we are in or out of the EU, and what the early consequences have been – which takes us back to the Brexit uncertainties I’ve already mentioned.

The conclusion I have come to is that for all these reasons, trying to choose between the two candidates on the basis of who would get the best Brexit and who would be most likely to win a subsequent (or preceding) general election amounts to making a series of uncertain tactical assumptions, with a good deal of crystal-ball gazing to fill in the gaps. And that is no way to choose a leader.

So we should start at the other end. The candidate to choose is the one who would, day by day, do the best job of being Prime Minister. That person, it follows, would be more likely to achieve the best things for the UK – whether on Brexit or anything else – and would accordingly have the stronger appeal to the electorate in an eventual election. Both candidates have a strong case to make: both are proper Conservatives, both are engaging, both are committed to honouring the referendum result, and both have ideas to take the country forward. So the decision about who would be the better Prime Minister comes down to judgment and instinct as much as anything else.

I can certainly see Boris in the job, and I can see him cheering us all up, at least for a time. I don’t fear a catastrophe should he carry the day. But I’ve watched Jeremy for a long time, with growing respect. I’ve been impressed with the way he has handled tricky jobs in government, from the Olympics to the doctors’ strike, with calm assurance and attention to detail. His performance as Foreign Secretary leads me to think the public’s view that he would be the more effective leader on the world stage is well founded. His character and integrity are evident. In a crisis, I would want him in charge. And if I were employing one of them to run a big, complicated project – which is what we are doing – I would choose him.

No disrespect to Boris – but it’s a binary choice, and that’s mine.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Hit hard, Hunt

Over half of those entitled to vote in the Conservative leadership election may already have done so.  According to YouGov, Boris Johnson was leading Jeremy Hunt among Party members last week by 74 per cent to 26 per cent. Our own survey a few days earlier put Johnson on 67 per cent and Hunt on 29 per cent.

The contest may be closer than either suggest, but this site is yet to find evidence to support such a view, and as we write Johnson looks set to win.  Some of Hunt’s supporters, and Party members more widely, may therefore want him to pull his punches in this evening’s Sky TV debate between the two candidates – their first head to head since this final stage of the contest began.

They will argue that the debating equivalent of mud wrestling will do nothing for the Party’s reputation, and worry too that, if Hunt gets too close and personal, Johnson will take revenge when the election ends.  They may be pondering the latter’s claim that his favourite film scene is “the multiple retribution killings at the end of The Godfather“.  Instead of a slugfest, they want a minuet – or perhaps more appropriately, given the Foreign Secretary’s dancing interests, a lambada.

We hope that Hunt provides nothing of the kind.  This site has come out for Johnson, but it is important that, if he is indeed set to win, he should be tested thoroughly tonight.  And while the front-runner has not exactly been avoiding scrutiny – we ourselves interviewed him recently – Hunt is right to point out that his opponent has ensured that this debate takes place after a mass of Party members have already voted.

As for providing ammunition for Corbyn, we believe that the Foreign Secretary is more than capable of conducting the evening’s business without turning into the Indoraptor from Jurassic Park: Fallen Kingdom.  (Which would be a surprise for all concerned, including him).

And as for revenge, this site was early to say that Johnson’s Cabinet must be signed up to No Deal if necessary – a view that he himself endorsed in our interview with him.  Within that constraint, he needs, given the lack of a Conservative majority, to form the broadest-based Cabinet possible, as Henry Newman writes on this site today.

That means keeping Hunt in a senior position, perhaps as Deputy Leader, and using him to work across government if he is required to move from the Foreign Office.  At any rate, it is precisely Hunt’s underdog status that should allow him, this evening, to bite a bit as well as bark.

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Lord Ashcroft: What my latest poll of eight thousand people says about Hunt and Johnson

While Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hiunt make their pitch to Conservatives around the country, I have been giving their tyres a good kicking. My latest poll of more than 8,000 people shows in detail what people make of the two candidates vying to be their next Prime Minister – particularly their appeal to voters who are not already Tories.

Who would be best – and who will win?

Asked which candidate would make the best Prime Minister, 34 per cent of all voters said Jeremy Hunt, and 27 per cent said Boris Johnson, with 39 per cent saying they didn’t know. Remain voters overall prefer Hunt by a 45-point margin; Remainers who voted Conservative in 2017 do so by 57 per cent to 19 per cent.

Westlake Legal Group Screen-Shot-2019-07-05-at-16.35.35 Lord Ashcroft: What my latest poll of eight thousand people says about Hunt and Johnson Opinion Pollster Opinion Polls Next Tory leader Jeremy Hunt MP Highlights Conservative leadership election 2019 Comment Boris Johnson MP   2017 Conservative voters as a whole currently prefer Johnson by 47 per cent to 29 per cent. Tory Leavers do so by 58 per cent to 19 per cent – and Labour Leavers by 33 per cent to 23 per cent.

Though their preference is for Hunt, voters overwhelmingly expect Johnson to win the contest: 67 per cent expect him to be chosen by party members, with just eight per cent anticipating a Hunt victory.

Why will the Conservatives choose as they do?

The few who expect Hunt to win the contest think Tories will choose him because is character is better suited to the job of Prime Minister, and that they regard him as the more competent candidate.

Westlake Legal Group Screen-Shot-2019-07-05-at-16.39.44 Lord Ashcroft: What my latest poll of eight thousand people says about Hunt and Johnson Opinion Pollster Opinion Polls Next Tory leader Jeremy Hunt MP Highlights Conservative leadership election 2019 Comment Boris Johnson MP   Those who think Johnson will win think Tories see him as their best chance of winning a general election, and that his view on Brexit is closest to that of Conservative Party members.

Does it matter?

We asked respondents whether they thought the two candidates “would be very different Prime Ministers and it could make a great deal of difference to Britain which one is chosen,” or if they thought “what happens in Britain over the next few years will be pretty much the same” whichever of them goes to Downing Street.

Westlake Legal Group Screen-Shot-2019-07-05-at-16.40.49 Lord Ashcroft: What my latest poll of eight thousand people says about Hunt and Johnson Opinion Pollster Opinion Polls Next Tory leader Jeremy Hunt MP Highlights Conservative leadership election 2019 Comment Boris Johnson MP   Voters as a whole agreed more with the first statement, and Conservatives – both Remainers and Leavers – were the most likely of all to do so.

Against Jeremy Corbyn

Voters as a whole said they thought both Jeremy Hunt and Boris Johnson would make better Prime Ministers than Jeremy Corbyn – Hunt by a 28-point margin (47 per cent to 19 per cent), and Johnson by 18 points (42 per cent to 24 per cent). While Conservative Leavers prefer both candidates by similarly high margins, Tory Remainers prefer Hunt over Corbyn by 83 points but Johnson over Corbyn by 56 points; one in three say ‘don’t know’ to that particular choice.

Westlake Legal Group Screen-Shot-2019-07-05-at-16.41.42 Lord Ashcroft: What my latest poll of eight thousand people says about Hunt and Johnson Opinion Pollster Opinion Polls Next Tory leader Jeremy Hunt MP Highlights Conservative leadership election 2019 Comment Boris Johnson MP   Remain voters as a whole prefer Hunt over Corbyn by nine points, but Corbyn over Johnson by 20 points. Labour Leavers prefer both Hunt (by five points) and Johnson (by nine points) to Jeremy Corbyn.

Forced to choose between a Conservative government led by Jeremy Hunt and a Labour government led by Jeremy Corbyn, voters as a whole plumped for a Hunt administration by a 20-point margin. A Johnson-led Tory government was more popular than a Corbyn Labour administration by the lower margin of 54 per cent to 46 per cent.

Westlake Legal Group Screen-Shot-2019-07-05-at-16.46.22 Lord Ashcroft: What my latest poll of eight thousand people says about Hunt and Johnson Opinion Pollster Opinion Polls Next Tory leader Jeremy Hunt MP Highlights Conservative leadership election 2019 Comment Boris Johnson MP   While Leave voters say they would prefer Conservative governments led by either candidate by 60-point margins, Remain voters as a whole prefer a Corbyn-led Labour government over a Hunt-led Tory government by 14 points, but a Corbyn-led Labour government over a Johnson-led Tory government by 40 points. Tory Remainers prefer a Johnson administration by 66 points, but a Hunt administration by 95 per cent to five per cent.

Westlake Legal Group Screen-Shot-2019-07-05-at-16.43.02 Lord Ashcroft: What my latest poll of eight thousand people says about Hunt and Johnson Opinion Pollster Opinion Polls Next Tory leader Jeremy Hunt MP Highlights Conservative leadership election 2019 Comment Boris Johnson MP   Asked how positively or negatively they felt about a number of politicians and parties, voters gave Hunt and Johnson identical average scores, higher than those of the Conservative Party as a whole and other political leaders. However, it was notable that while Hunt’s scores were clustered largely around the neutral centre, Johnson’s overall total was the result of a balance between the very positive and very negative ends of the scale.

Who could do what?

We asked whether certain things were more likely to be achieved by Jeremy Hunt or Boris Johnson, or were equally likely (or unlikely) to happen under either of them. Voters think Hunt would be more likely to be a credible and effective leader for Britain on the world stage, build and lead an effective team in government, deal with important issues other than Brexit, take a reasonable and sensible approach to problems, and win the respect of people who don’t vote for him.

Westlake Legal Group Screen-Shot-2019-07-05-at-16.49.48 Lord Ashcroft: What my latest poll of eight thousand people says about Hunt and Johnson Opinion Pollster Opinion Polls Next Tory leader Jeremy Hunt MP Highlights Conservative leadership election 2019 Comment Boris Johnson MP   Johnson is thought more likely to take Britain out of the EU with no deal, win a general election for the Conservatives, be a strong leader, and to make promises he knows he can’t or won’t deliver.

People were most likely to say that two candidates would be equally unable to achieve a good Brexit deal for the UK, be honest with the public, represent the whole country, unite Leave and Remain voters, make the right decisions even when they are unpopular, and care about “people like me.”

Reach v grasp

To get a better understanding of the two candidates’ comparative appeal, we repeated a process used earlier in the year to assess the potential success of new parties (with, as subsequent events have proved, some prescience, if I say so myself). We showed people pairs of opposing statements that might describe a Prime Minister – personal characteristics and policy positions they might take – and asked how strongly they preferred one or the other in each case.

hese answers are plotted on the attitudinal map below – for example, those preferring a Prime Minister who supports austerity are in the top right, and those wanting an anti-austerity Prime Minister in the bottom left. Analysing these responses along with people’s past votes and how positively or negatively they felt towards parties and politicians allowed us to chart Hunt and Johnson’s support and potential reach.

Westlake Legal Group Screen-Shot-2019-07-05-at-16.57.41 Lord Ashcroft: What my latest poll of eight thousand people says about Hunt and Johnson Opinion Pollster Opinion Polls Next Tory leader Jeremy Hunt MP Highlights Conservative leadership election 2019 Comment Boris Johnson MP   The shaded areas represent what might be called the boundaries of the Hunt and anti-Hunt hemispheres, and the Boris and anti-Boris hemispheres – and show where they overlap and where they do not. Both candidates are within what might be called the Conservative quadrant of the map: those who take a positive view of either candidate are also likely to take traditional centre-right positions on, for example, economic policy, austerity and crime. Even so, they clearly occupy distinct positions.

While Johnson is closer to those who want a Prime Minister who listens to the people and does what they want, Hunt is closer to those who want a leader who does what they think is right even if it is unpopular. Hunt’s hemisphere includes those who prefer a Prime Minuster who is very diplomatic and prefers to act multilaterally, but Johnson’s takes in those who want a leader who says exactly what he thinks and prefers to act independently in international affairs. While Johnson is in reach of those who voted UKIP in 2017, Liberal Democrats are in the same hemisphere as Hunt.

In 2017, Labour and the Conservatives between them accounted for 82 per cent of the vote. As things stand, this looks unlikely to happen again. The winner, then, will be the party whose 2017 voting coalition unravels the least. In terms of the attitudinal map, the Tories cannot afford to be confined to a single quadrant in the top right, just as Labour need to avoid appealing exclusively to the bottom left. The question is whether Hunt or Johnson is more likely to succeed in turning their theoretical reach into general election votes.

Portrait of a candidate

We offered respondents a selection of 25 positive and negative words and phrases and asked them to choose those that they thought best described the two candidates. For Hunt, the top five overall choices were, in order, “smug,” “out of his depth,” “competent,” “out of touch” and “arrogant.” The five most often chosen for Johnson were “arrogant,” “dishonest,” “dangerous,” “unreliable” and “amusing.”

Westlake Legal Group Screen-Shot-2019-07-05-at-16.56.19 Lord Ashcroft: What my latest poll of eight thousand people says about Hunt and Johnson Opinion Pollster Opinion Polls Next Tory leader Jeremy Hunt MP Highlights Conservative leadership election 2019 Comment Boris Johnson MP

Among 2017 Conservative voters, the top choice for Hunt was “competent”. For Johnson, it was “stands up for Britain.”

Westlake Legal Group Screen-Shot-2019-07-05-at-16.55.21 Lord Ashcroft: What my latest poll of eight thousand people says about Hunt and Johnson Opinion Pollster Opinion Polls Next Tory leader Jeremy Hunt MP Highlights Conservative leadership election 2019 Comment Boris Johnson MP   Voters as a whole, and especially Leave voters, said they would rather have Johnson round for dinner (though Hunt was the more popular invitee among Remainers). But by very wide margins, all groups – including Conservative Leavers – said they would rather allow Hunt to babysit their children, trust him with an important secret, lend him money in the expectation of getting it back, and (especially) let him drive their daughter or the daughter of a friend home from a party.

The next general election

We asked half our sample how likely they currently thought they were on a 100-point scale to vote for each party at the next election if Jeremy Hunt were Prime Minister, and the other half the same question if Boris Johnson was in Number Ten.

On average, 2017 Conservative voters who voted Leave in the referendum put their chance of voting for the Brexit Party at 50.4/100 if Hunt were PM, higher than their chance of voting Tory again (44.9). Under Prime Minister Johnson, they put their likelihood of voting Conservative at 60.4, and the Brexit Party at 37.8.

Westlake Legal Group Screen-Shot-2019-07-05-at-16.50.45 Lord Ashcroft: What my latest poll of eight thousand people says about Hunt and Johnson Opinion Pollster Opinion Polls Next Tory leader Jeremy Hunt MP Highlights Conservative leadership election 2019 Comment Boris Johnson MP   Conservative Remain voters put their chance of voting Tory again higher under Jeremy Hunt (57.9) than under Boris Johnson (46.7), and their likelihood of voting Liberal Democrat higher with Johnson as PM (32.4) than with Hunt (25.4). The Brexit Party’s overall mean score put it second to the Conservatives with Jeremy Hunt as Prime Minister, with Labour third and the Lib Dems fourth. Under Boris Johnson, the Brexit Party were fourth, with Labour second and the Lib Dems third.

Full details of the research can be found at LordAshcroftPolls.com.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com