Jeremy Hunt’s popularity with the public has soared and he is now voters’ preferred choice to be prime minister, a new poll has revealed.
Some 41 per cent of people surveyed by YouGov preferred the leadership outsider, against 29 per cent for Mr Johnson.
Mr Hunt’s net approval rating has risen to -14 from -24 a fortnight ago, with 28 per cent of voters believing he would be a good prime minister, the figures revealed.
In contrast, after a difficult week for Mr Johnson‘s campaign his approval rating fell from -18 to -33, with 25 per cent of the electorate rating him as a good potential PM.
The figures will be a boost for Team Hunt but the South West Surrey MP faces a thornier electorate in his bid to become leader – the Tory membership.
In the latest survey of the party he lagged behind Mr Johnson.
A Hunt campaign source said: ‘Jeremy remains the underdog but this shows we’ve got the momentum.
‘He’s clearly the candidate best trusted to beat Corbyn.’
Mr Hunt with his wife Lucia in Darmouth, Devon, this afternoon. Mr Hunt’s net approval rating has risen to -14 from -24 a fortnight ago, with 28 per cent of voters believing he would be a good prime minister.
Mr Johnson’s campaign was rocked this week by the fallout from a heated row with his partner Carrie Symonds which saw the police called to their south London home.
Jam on top: Mr Hunt tucked into a scone the Devon way as he met party members in Dartmouth
He also finally responded to criticism of his low-key campaign start with a slew of interviews and appearances, which have opened him up to more scrutiny.
Anthony Wells, YouGov’s director of political and social research, said: ‘It is impossible to tell whether the changes are because of the coverage of Boris Johnson’s personal life, the campaign itself, or just a reflection of Jeremy Hunt becoming the sole ”anti-Boris” candidate, and therefore being seen more positively by those people opposed to Johnson’s coronation.
‘Whatever the reason, it’s important to remember that while Hunt may have pulled ahead among the public, it will ultimately be the Conservative members who have the final decision.’
Yesterday it appeared the former foreign secretary had weathered the ongoing furore over the late-night altercation with Miss Symonds and an energetic campaign by Mr Hunt – who has branded him a coward.
Boris Johnson was interviewed by Elijah Maxwell, nine, at the King Alfred School in Highbridge, Somerset, today
The latest grass-roots ConservativeHome survey found Mr Johnson was backed by 65 per cent, and Mr Hunt 30 per cent
The latest grass-roots ConservativeHome survey of members – who will decide the contest – found he was backed by 65 per cent and Mr Hunt 30 per cent – although the Foreign Secretary does seem to have gained some ground since the campaign kicked off for real.
In the equivalent poll last week, which featured the last four contenders including Sajid Javid and Michael Gove, Mr Hunt scored just 11 per cent. But he has now risen 19 points.