Tory activists want Michael Gove as leader (and won’t take no for an answer)
ConservativeHome poll also shows support for Boris Johnson on the up again after controversial Brexit antics.
Michael Gove may have insisted he does not want to lead his party – but committed Tories are clearly having none of it.
A new survey of grassroots members by ConservativeHome shows that the justice secretary is their top choice for leader for the third month running.
Gove overhauled Johnson to take the lead in April. He extended his lead in the survey published by the Tory website in May and has held firm this month.
Unfortunately for Tory members, Gove has repeatedly been sending out strong signals that he does not want the job.
Most recently, he told The Telegraph he was certainly not interested in becoming prime minister. On 6 May he insisted: "No I’m not. There…I don’t want to do it and there are people who are far better equipped than me to do it. And there are people who have advocated Leave and people who have advocated Remain who are far better than me to do it."
Meanwhile Boris Johnson’s standing has soared by eight points since last month. In the intervening period, Johnson has been campaigning furiously for Brexit and on 15 May he courted controversy by comparing the European Union’s aims to those of Hitler.
Johnson’s Brexit antics may have outraged many of his opponents – but the poll suggests that many Tory activists are lapping them up. Johnson remains second, with the survey suggesting that he is gaining popularity among grassroots Tories at the expense of fellow Brexiteers Liam Fox and Priti Patel.
ConservativeHome editor Paul Goodman said the results suggest that "there may indeed be no such thing as bad publicity".