In a vote anticipated almost as eagerly as that which sends Matt Hancock to his first Bushtucker Trial, our panel have been voting on which of the likely two final candidates they would have chosen had they been given a vote in last week’s leadership election. Only three in ten clamoured for a Johnson restoration, whilst 52 per cent would have selected Rishi Sunak, the man the members rejected only two months ago.
The survey was held after the results of the contest were announced, so Sunak can expect the sort of winner’s bounce one usually sees after an election. Like schoolboys in the south-east opting to support Manchester City, there is a natural tendency to bandwagon behind the victor. Insert reference to Liz Truss voting Remain here.
Still, that there was no overwhelming majority for Johnson suggests members heeded the warnings of ourselves and other less reputable outlets as to the disaster that his return would have been. Or, being wiser than us professional commentators, they looked at the situation for themselves and came to the same conclusion.
There is also the fact that our brief flirtation with Trussonomics so vindicated Sunak’s various warning about not messing with the markets this summer. That 46.62 per cent of voters opted for either Johnson or another unmentioned option – ardent for Mordaunt, perhaps? – suggests there is some lingering resentment over having a leader selected only by MPs, with the spectre of the money men looming behind.
But as our last survey of this summer’s leadership election had Truss on 60 per cent and Sunak on 28 per cent – and the final vote had her on 57 per cent to his 43 per cent – this does suggest that, as far as we know, our new Prime Minister has the tentative approval of members. Why this is the case will become slightly clearer in light of a second survey, on whether Truss was right to resign, which we will publish this afternoon.