Ben Wallace predicted to be Tory leadership candidate by Curtice
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For some time at the beginning of this year, it appeared Boris Johnson, embroiled in a row over what was dubbed ‘Partygate’, could have been on his way out of Number 10. Many Tory MPs handed in letters of no confidence and a leadership contest was considered more a matter of “when”, not “if”. A number of backbenchers were also starting to see how was preparing to fill the empty position, with one telling Express.co.uk in February: “Rishi is on manoeuvre.”
The Chancellor was widely considered most fit for the job, alongside Foreign Secretary Liz Truss.
Electoral expert Mr Curtice said there was “not a doubt” these would have been the main figures in the running for leadership some time ago had Mr Johnson been removed from his position.
But he argued much has changed since, meaning any potential upcoming Tory leadership election would look very different now than it would have done just over a month ago.
Mr Curtice told GB News “two things have arguably changed”.
Mr Curtice said: “If he were to be fined along with the Prime Minister and if that were to bring the Prime Minister down, it is not clear that Mr Sunak would be in a position to inherit [the leadership].”
The second matter to have changed is the invasion of Ukraine itself, which has given rise to other politicians – perhaps Defence Secretary Ben Wallace more than any other.
Mr Wallace has, according to the political analyst, “come out best so far” in this affair and has proved himself “the most sure-footed of Mr Johnson’s Cabinet ministers”.
The Defence Secretary has, unsurprisingly, featured far more prominently in the public eye in recent weeks than the Chancellor.
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YouGov’s live tracker of Mr Sunak’s popularity, which asks pollers “how well or how badly” is the Chancellor doing has seen his favourability take a recent slump.
Over the past three months, the percentage of those polled who believe Mr Sunak is doing a “good job” has slipped by seven from 34 to 27.
This has been matched by a seven percent increase in those believing he has done a “bad job” (from 26 to 33 percent).
The last result was produced on March 17, just under a week before Mr Sunak delivered his Spring Statement.
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The largely negative reception this has received could mean his popularity rating will be lower still when voters are next polled.
Express.co.uk readers this week expressed their dismay at the Chancellor’s Statement.
89 percent of 1,644 readers polled said they were not happy with the announcements.
Just 10 percent said “yes”, they are happy while the remaining one percent said they did not know either way.
Mr Wallace, on the other hand, while previously less well known that Mr Sunak, is now rising in the popularity ranks.
A “Cabinet League Table” created by Conservative Home earlier this year, as tension between Russia and Ukraine – and, indeed, the West – rose, put the Defence Secretary in top position, ahead of Ms Truss, in second place, and well above Mr Sunak, down in 10th.
Mr Curtice did note that the candidate most likely to rise to the top in any upcoming leadership election could take another dramatic turn in the near future, adding: “It depends on who is doing well at the time.”
But he stressed that if an election were to emerge now, and if Mr Wallace was up for the job, it would be his for the winning.
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