In January, Theresa May was top. In February, she was replaced by Liam Fox. In March, Boris Johnson toppled him, in the wake of his own declaration for Brexit. And last month, Michael Gove took the lead.
This month, he extends it by five points. Party members are clearly minded at the moment to support a pro-Leave candidate: 70 per cent of them do so – almost exactly the same number as those who say that they will either vote for Brexit in June’s referendum, or are likely to.
The Justice Secretary is clearly seen by our Party member as the pro-Leave Cabinet member who is performing most powerfully in the campaign. The Mayor of London has sometimes looked less sure-footed – deploying the bludgeon against Barack Obama when a scalpel might have served better – and his total falls slightly, though not by enough to suggest any real difference.
Theresa May’s score is up by five points, and I can’t think of a reason for the change other than her thoroughly-argued case for Remain, which was shorn of the Project Despair scare stories that have marked some of the interventions of other senior Ministers. We ran the entire text of the speech on this site, and know that it was extremely well-read. I didn’t believe that it would have much impact on Party activists and was wrong about that.
The Home Secretary trailed Liam Fox by a single vote. Priti Patel stays on nine per cent, not a bad rating at all for a Minister who doesn’t head a department. George Osborne appears to be marooned on eight per cent or thereabouts, at least for the moment.
Since Jeremy Hunt has said that his present job is likely to be “my last big job in politics”, we will take him out of this question next month.
We may replace him with another member of the 2005 intake, Stephen Crabb, but are reluctant to tamper with the survey more than is absolutely necessary.