Conservative critics have said they are prepared to launch a coup in the coming weeks if the party suffers at the local elections on Thursday, May 5. A YouGov poll ranks Mr Johnson’s approval rating at 29 percent, as of April 7, one point lower than his previous score in March.
In comparison, the number of people who think he is doing “badly” in his role grew by two percentage points to 65 percent.
This latest research was conducted before it was revealed he had been issued a fixed penalty notice for attending an illegal gathering at Downing Street, which could negatively impact his approval further.
The Prime Minister’s inner circle are optimistic about Mr Johnson retaining his position but that has not stopped potential contenders jostling for position.
Rishi Sunak, Chancellor of the Exchequer, was favourite to be the next Tory leader, but his popularity has suffered over the cost-of-living crisis, tax hikes, backlash to his own family’s tax affairs and the fact he was also issued a fine alongside the Prime Minister for a Covid breach.
Foreign Secretary Liz Truss is now the bookmakers’ favourite to become the next Conservative leader. Her popularity has benefited from her work amid the Ukraine crisis and foreign policy vision, discouraging trade with China and Russia.
Defence Secretary Ben Wallace is earning the respect of colleagues and increasing his profile as he deals with the invasion of Ukraine, but it is unclear what broader policies he would stand for.
Former Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt lost out to Mr Johnson in the last Tory leadership election in 2019 but is reportedly preparing for another run, despite backbenchers being sceptical of his Brexit stance ‒ Mr Hunt was a Remainer.
Sajid Javid, Health Secretary, came fourth in the 2019 leadership race, and the latest polling shows he is the most popular member of the Cabinet.
Junior Trade Minister Penny Mordaunt was respected during her two years in the Cabinet under Theresa May, and as a Brexiteer with liberal views, she could attract wider support.
Despite being an MP for seven years, Tom Tugendhat has never held ministerial office but is managing to build a public profile and could be a good contender as he is untainted by previous leaders.
Former Chief Whip Mark Harper has called for Mr Johnson to resign, and his opposition to lockdowns alongside his willingness to speak out on the Conservative Party may prove favourable in a vote.
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