Home Secretary Sajid Javid is favourite with the Tory faithful to succeed Theresa May
, with Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt in second place – and Boris Johnson
well down the field.
They are the findings of a Survation poll for the Mail conducted today after the vote of confidence in Mrs May's Conservative leadership was announced.
According to the survey of Conservative councillors, Home Secretary Mr Javid is the Party's first choice to replace Mrs May.
He is followed by Mr Hunt and former Brexit
Secretary Dominic Raab.
Surprisingly, Mr Johnson, Mrs May's most prominent critic, trails in seventh place.
By contrast, Environment Michael Gove, who sabotaged fellow Brexiteer Johnson's 2016 leadership challenge in 2016, but has stayed loyal to Mrs May, is one place ahead of Johnson.
The 753 Conservative councillors who took part in the poll were asked to pick from 11 leadership contenders, listing them in order of preference.
The more top picks they received, the higher they were ranked and vice versa.
The Survation poll is a key guide to the possible outcome of a Tory leadership contest.
MPs whittle the candidates down the final two, but the winner is decided by a vote of the Party's 100,000 plus members, which includes its 9,000 councillors.
Nearly six in ten of those who took part in the survey voted in favour of Brexit in the referendum; four of ten voted Remain.
In spite of the respondents' pro Brexit views, outspoken Remainer, Work and Pensions Secretary Ms Rudd, restored to the Cabinet after losing her Home Office job over the Windrush immigration fiasco earlier this year, pipped both Johnson and Gove.
The number one ranking for Javid comes after a series of reports that he is gearing up for a challenge if Mrs May falls.
The Home Secretary, who campaigned for Remain but has since said he supports Brexit, is followed by fellow convert Hunt in second place, Raab third, David Davis, Amber Rudd, Gove, Johnson, Penny Mordaunt, Jacob Rees-Mogg, Andrea Leadsom and Esther McVey.
Johnson's low position is at odds with other recent polls of Tory supporters – as opposed to Tory members – which have put him in first place.
Damian Lyons-Lowe, head of Survation, said: 'It seems Conservative councillors disapprove more strongly of a fellow politician who rocks the party boat to members of the public.
They are more sympathetic to Cabinet loyalists like Sajid and Hunt. Boris' supporters will be dismayed that he is behind both Gove and Rudd in popularity terms in the Party.'
Nearly seven in ten Tory councillors said Conservative MPs were wrong to try to oust Mrs May; one in three said they were right to do so.
A total of 67 per cent said MPs should vote to keep Mrs May against 31 per cent who said they should sack her.
Tory Party anger with MPs who tried to topple Mrs May is reflected in some of the comments posted by councillors who took part in the poll.
They included: 'What a mess, no deal should not even be considered, the economy is the priority'; 'We should support the PM, stabbing her in the back has undermined her all the way'; 'Conservative MPs are acting like children'; 'I am ashamed of MPs who did this.'
But some were critical of the Prime Minister. One said: 'We need a leader with real charisma.' Another observed: 'She has made a real hash of the negotiations.'
Survation interviewed 753 Conservative councillors online today.
When Theresa May promised to bow out after Brexit she fired the starting gun on the Tory leadership race. With Raab in front and Javid and Johnson behind him, ANDREW PIERCE asks who will replace her as PM?
By Andrew Pierce for The Daily Mail
With his double-breasted pinstripe suits and impeccable manners, the 49-year-old has been ridiculed as 'the honourable member for the 18th century'.
Chairman of the European Research Group, a cabal of ultra-Brexiteer Tories who have botched their attempts to unseat Mrs May. And his increasingly personal attacks on her have damaged his standing among fellow Tory MPs and activists.
The son of a former editor of The Times, he divides his time with his wife and their six children between a £4.5 million house in Westminster and a 400-year-old mansion at the foot of the Mendip Hills.
He used to top polls of party activists when they were asked who they wanted as next Tory leader. But his recent disloyalty to Mrs May has seen his ratings plummet.
Always says he doesn't want the top job — which is just as well. After May's comfortable victory, there's now more chance of Tony Blair coming back as Labour leader than Rees-Mogg assuming the Tory crown.
Brexiteers who stalked out
Cerebral lawyer who's the son of a Czech-born Jewish father who came to Britain in 1938 aged six as a refugee from the Nazis.
Appointed Brexit Secretary after fellow Brexiteer David Davis walked out — but quit himself last month.
'I cannot support an indefinite backstop arrangement, where the EU holds a veto over our ability to exit,' he said.
Ubiquitous on TV and radio, but not everyone is impressed. 'Dominic is his own biggest fan,' says one Tory MP. 'He's just a bit too clever.'
A black belt at karate, the 44-year-old could form a joint leadership ticket with David Davis.
Clearly on manoeuvres — the 54-year-old having just cropped his signature tousled hair and lost 12lb.
The most passionate frontline Tory advocate of Brexit — describing the PM's deal as 'diabolical' and a 'legal lobster pot'. As ever, he is long on bombast, short on content. Long on grandiosity, short on self-awareness.
As one of the most hardline Brexiteers, he is hamstrung by a lack of support among fellow Tory MPs, which means he'll struggle to make it to the final two of any contest. But a restless soul, backbench life will not suit Johnson.
A long-term Leave advocate brought back into government by May (before he quit in a huff) having first served as Europe minister in the Major government.
The victim of a whispering campaign about his time as Brexit Secretary when the 69-year-old was accused of being lazy, having held only five hours of meetings in Brussels in 2018.
Significantly jockeyed for position yesterday by proposing a new Brexit solution — scrapping the Irish backstop.
A serious contender, but his best hope is as a stop-gap leader before handing over to a younger deputy.
A Barnardo's child whose father was variously a scrap metal merchant and an ice cream van driver. Before politics, the Liverpudlian was a breakfast TV presenter.
Resigned as Work and Pensions Secretary in protest at May's EU withdrawal document.
Asked on Sunday if she'd run, Mrs McVey, 51, said she would 'if people asked'.
Though she might have to wait a long time before anyone asks her, as she has yet to prove she has any intellectual depth.
Her political mentor is Eurosceptic Iain Duncan Smith, and Mrs McVey has been the MP for the Tatton, Cheshire seat — vacated by Europhile George Osborne — since 2017.
The die-hard remainers
Has enjoyed a rapid rise over recent years — thanks to his naked ambition, matinee idol good looks and a penchant for theatrical power play.
As May's Chief Whip, he was rewarded for running her leadership campaign with the job of Defence Secretary.
Best known for having kept a tarantula in a glass box on his Commons desk, seemingly to intimidate Tory MPs who stepped out of line.
Tried to soften his image by saying: 'I don't very much believe in the stick, but it's amazing what can be achieved with a sharpened carrot.'
His time at the defence ministry has been fraught — being dubbed Private Pike, after the hapless youth in Dad's Army, by some service chiefs who see the 42-year-old as a lightweight.
Early this year he confessed to having had a long-ago office romance with a colleague around the time his first son was born, admitting he 'nearly destroyed two marriages'.
A rank outsider — with critics saying only he thinks he has leadership qualities.
Broke ranks with Mrs May at the weekend when she conceded the possible need for a second referendum. But generally an ally of the country's second woman PM, complaining that men at Westminster 'seem to flounce out quite a lot'.
Brought back into the Cabinet recently after being forced to resign as Home Secretary over the Windrush scandal in April. The 55-year-old's Achilles heel is the fact that she has a majority of only 346 in her Hastings and Rye constituency.
An alumna of Cheltenham Ladies' College, she was 'aristocracy coordinator' for the film Four Weddings And A Funeral and was previously married to the late restaurant critic A. A. Gill.
Her millionaire PR guru brother Roland was a leading figure in the Remain campaign and is now noisily calling for a second referendum.
Now Welfare and Pensions Secretary, Rudd is considered an unlikely successor to Mrs May because of her steadfast support for the EU — something not appreciated by the Eurosceptic Tory grassroots.
A leading figure in the Leave campaign and, expecting Boris Johnson to run for leader afterwards, asked him to make her Chancellor if she supported him.
The 55-year-old's own bid for the leadership foundered after allegations she'd exaggerated her City career.
She then withdrew from the 2016 leadership race after apologising to Theresa May for suggesting being a mother made her a better candidate.
Environment Secretary in May's first Cabinet, but was out of her depth.
Not even worth an outside bet.
Despite being a die-hard Brexiteer, the Environment Secretary has taken a high-wire stance of staying in Mrs May's Cabinet.
Has toured TV and radio to defend the PM's Brexit plan, which he says is not ideal but is better than a 'calamitous' no deal.
The 51-year-old will run if enough senior party figures urge him to.
Joked this week that he might 'if Boris Johnson nominated me and Philip Hammond seconded'. More likely to back another candidate rather than stand
Daughter of a former Para and named after frigate HMS Penelope.
The 45-year-old has been MP for Portsmouth North since 2010 and first came to prominence wearing a swimsuit to appear on ITV's celebrity diving show Splash!
A naval reservist, she was first female Armed Forces minister before being promoted to Cabinet as International Development Secretary.
Was the most outspoken critic at the Chequers summit on the Brexit plan, but decided not to resign.
'Not sure she's clever enough to go to the top,' said one former Cabinet minister last night.
The Home Secretary was always regarded as a Brexiteer until he came out for Remain in the referendum.
Javid, 49, now describes himself as an enthusiastic Brexit convert, but is viewed with suspicion by hardliners.
He is also a boring speaker and is regarded as dull and unimaginative by many fellow Tory MPs, with little to offer politically.
A former Remainer whose reputation has been boosted by his strong six-year record as Health Secretary, which ended when he replaced Boris Johnson as Foreign Secretary.
Affable and quietly authoritative, the 52-year-old has built a loyal following on the backbenches. A convert to Brexit, but vehemently opposed to leaving with no deal.