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Almost Half of Tories Pick Rishi Sunak as 'Better Party Leader' Over Boris Johnson, Poll Shows

© AP Photo / Hollie AdamsBritain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson gestures as he speaks during a press conference in London, Saturday Nov. 27, 2021, after cases of the new COVID-19 variant were confirmed in the UK
Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson gestures as he speaks during a press conference in London, Saturday Nov. 27, 2021, after cases of the new COVID-19 variant were confirmed in the UK - Sputnik International, 1920, 10.01.2022
A disastrous period dominated by Tory sleaze scandals, a backbench rebellion over COVID-19 rules, allegations of lockdown-breaching No 10 Christmas parties in 2020 and a humiliating by-election loss last year have fed into speculations that Prime Minister Boris Johnson might be facing a leadership challenge.
Nearly half of the UK Conservatives believe that Chancellor Rishi Sunak or Foreign Secretary Liz Truss may do better than Boris Johnson at leading the party and garnering more seats at the next election, according to a YouGov poll for Sky News.
Boris Johnson is doing "well" as prime minister according to 61% of the Tories polled, in a drop from the 85% in that approved of his performance in July 2020, showed the poll that surveyed 1,005 Tory members between 30 December and 6 January.
Meanwhile, the percentage of those who take a dim view of how "badly" he is carrying out his duties at No 10 has increased to 38%, up from 5%.
Looking ahead towards the local elections in May 2022 and the general election in 2024, less than a quarter of Conservative Party members are convinced that Johnson would be more successful at winning votes than potential challenger Truss.
No more than 16% displayed confidence that the current Prime Minister would perform better at a general election than Rishi Sunak.
In the wake of numerous scandals that have rocked the Tory leadership of late, from sleaze rows to allegations of rule-busting Christmas gatherings of staff at Downing Street, which have been denied by No10, 39% of Tory membership say Boris Johnson cannot be trusted to tell the truth. 45% still trust the PM’s word.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson holds a news conference for the latest coronavirus disease (COVID-19) update in the Downing Street briefing room, in London, Britain December 8, 2021.  - Sputnik International, 1920, 10.12.2021
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As to whether Boris Johnson should remain in office in the wake of the scandals that have been chipping away at his reputation, 59% of those polled think he should, nevertheless, stay on as Tory leader, while the 34% of those who favour him stepping down is a marked increased from the 9% registered in July 2020.
The survey showed that Tory membership was closely split on the issue of whether Johnson would, in fact, still be the party leader by the time the country goes to the polls in 2024 or 2023, in the case of an early general election. Thus, 47% responded by saying that Johnson would still likely be to be leader by that time, while 45% deemed it unlikely.
When asked about potential challengers to Johnson as Tory leader, Chancellor Rishi Sunak and Foreign Secretary Liz Truss were seen as outstripping all other likely rivals.
33% of those polled opted for Rishi Sunak as a candidate to lead the Conservative Party, while Liz Truss drummed up 25%. Others trailed far behind, with ex-foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt receiving 8%, Levelling Up Secretary Michael Gove 6%, Secretary of State for Health and Social Care Sajid Javid 5% and Home Secretary Priti Patel with 4%.
46% Tory members currently believe that Sunak would be a better Tory leader than Johnson, with 46% also sure he would put up a better showing against the Labour Party in an election.
39% think Truss, who became Foreign Secretary after Johnson’s cabinet reshuffle last September and has now also taken on the role of chief Brexit negotiator following the resignation of Lord Frost would be better than Johnson as party leader. 33% think she could do better against Labour at the next election.
Liz Truss was shown to be more popular among Brexit voters than Rishi Sunak. However, the Chancellor, despite supporting Brexit in 2016, was seen as appealing to those Conservative Party members who had voted Remain, as 63% of them believe Sunak would be a better Tory leader than Johnson.
Britain's new Foreign Secretary Liz Truss leaves 10 Downing Street, in London, Wednesday, Sept. 15, 2021 - Sputnik International, 1920, 03.01.2022
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The poll comes as speculation has been rife as to who might contest Tory leadership as embattled Boris Johnson continues to face the heat.
According to Tory sources cited by UK media outlets, Liz Truss has been hosting private meetings with MPs over champagne, dubbed ‘fizz with Liz’, to possibly garner support for such a challenge.
However, a spokesman for Liz Truss was quoted as saying in December:
“It’s total and utter rubbish… She’s been Foreign Secretary for less than 12 weeks and is focused on getting on with the job. She meets MPs regularly to discuss foreign policy, and previously trade policy.”
Henry Hill, news editor at ConservativeHome, was cited by Politico as saying in December that Sunak’s campaign was “starting to tap people on the shoulder and take soundings” among MPs and “the organization is definitely on.”
Nevertheless, a poll conducted by ConservativeHome at the end of the year found Truss had become the favourite to succeed Johnson, with slightly over 23 per cent of Tory party members preferring to see her as PM, while 20 per cent would prefer to have Chancellor Rishi Sunak take over.
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