Ukraine: Ben Wallace reacts to threats from Vladimir Putin
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Tory activists have voted on who they want to see as the next Conservative leader. As Boris Johnson’s grip on power slips in the aftermath of partygate, a no confidence vote and two major by election losses, Tory members are split on who they want to see take the party into the next general election.
Who could replace Boris Johnson?
According to Conservative Home, Defence Secretary Ben Wallace is the favourite among Tory members to become the next party leader.
The survey of 755 members, which asks “Who should be the next leader of the Conservative Party after Boris Johnson?” found the lesser-known cabinet minister comes out on top after impressing his party’s membership with his response to Ukraine.
In the last poll which ran in December, Mr Wallace was not even named by any voter, but he has clearly impressed Tory members with 119 votes and 16 percent of the vote in total.
He has also come top in Conservative Home’s cabinet ranking since February when the Russian invasion of Ukraine was launched.
Mr Wallace is closely followed by Trade Policy minister Penny Mordaunt, who has 117 votes from members.
Her rise to the top is more striking and is likely because she is seen as a unity candidate for the beleaguered party.
Ms Mordaunt has eight years of cabinet experience under her belt and is a staunch supporter of Brexit, meaning she will tick the boxes for many grassroots Tories despite having little public profile.
Foreign Secretary Liz Truss is third in the running, having dropped from the top of the leadership poll, netting 14 percent (105) of the votes.
This is a drop from first place in the December poll, where she was seen as the obvious alternative to a Johnson premiership with 12 percent and 181 of the votes cast.
Exactly why her popularity has declined is unclear, but some Tory activists could be disgruntled with her failure to negotiate a resolution to the Northern Ireland protocol with the EU.
Non-cabinet minister Tom Tugendhat is fourth in the rankings with seven percent of the vote and is the only Tory on the list to have confirmed he will run in the next leadership contest.
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The Secretary of State for Education Nadhim Zahawi is fifth in the leadership table with 6.6 percent of the vote, and is closely followed by Jeremy Hunt on 6.3 percent.
Mr Hunt has not hidden his dislike for Mr Johnson’s determination to continue as Prime Minister, being one of the most well-known Tories to publicly declare he would not back him in the vote of no confidence in June.
Major cabinet ministers, such as Priti Patel and Rishi Sunak have found themselves in the bottom half of the rankings.
The Chancellor places ninth, with just five percent of those surveyed voting for him.
Mr Sunak has faced considerable scrutiny in recent months over receiving a coronavirus fine for attending a party in Downing Street and for his wife’s non-domicile tax status.
He has also come under criticism for failing to sufficiently help households with the cost of living crisis.
Dominic Raab is just behind Mr Sunak in 10th place, and Ms Patel has remained unpopular with the public and also clearly Conservative voters, coming 13 out of 15 in the poll.
Some 39 members of those surveyed refused to answer the question, indicating they still offer their backing to Mr Johnson.
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