The latest monthly poll by the website Conservative Home shows the chancellor ahead of the London mayor, with nearly one in three (31%) of the over 700 members questioned saying they wanted Osborne to replace David Cameron when he steps down.
Osborne has gained nine percentage points since the same poll was conducted last month, when Johnson and business secretary Sajid Javid came out in joint first place with 23% of support respectively. Osborne was a close second with 22%.
In the runup to the general election, the Conservative Home poll consistently had home secretary Theresa May and Johnson battling for first place, but this month May came in in fifth place, with only 13% support. Javid is down 4 points to 19%, Johnson is down 6 to 17%, and Liam Fox is up three points to 14%.
The justice secretary, Michael Gove, received the backing of 4.5% of those questioned, health secretary Jeremy Hunt won 2.1% and education secretary Nicky Morgan was on 0.8%.
Osborne is now the bookmakers’ favourite to be the next Tory leader, ahead of Johnson in second place and May in third.
On 8 July, Osborne delivered the first budget from a majority Conservative government in 19 years and surprised many by announcing the introduction of a national living wage, which would increase the minimum wage for over-25s to £7.20 by April and £9 by 2020.
Cameron sparked a mini-crisis within the Tory election campaign in May when he told the BBC that he would not stand for a third term as prime minister. “I’ve said I’ll stand for a full second term. But I think after that it will be time for new leadership,” he said. “Terms are like Shredded Wheat – two are wonderful but three might just be too many.”
Cameron named May, Osborne and Johnson as possible replacements, fuelling speculation about who would be his most likely successor. “You know, there’s plenty of talent there,” he said. “I’m surrounded by very good people. The third term is not something I’m contemplating.”
This article was written by Frances Perraudin, for theguardian.com on Tuesday 4th August 2015 15.41 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010