British Prime Minister Boris Johnson still has the support of voting members in the governing Conservative Party over prime ministerial candidates Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak, a study released Wednesday showed.
Truss, the foreign secretary and ally of Johnson, currently leads over Sunak, the former chancellor of the exchequer, with 60% of the vote, according to a poll of 1,043 Conservative members conducted by YouGov from July 29 to Aug. 2. However, if Johnson were in the running, he would defeat both candidates with 40% of the vote, which would drop support of Truss to 28% and Sunak to 23%. British law does not allow a resigning prime minister to seek the nomination.
Voters also expressed the view that Johnson should not have been forced to resign his position, the new polling showed, with 53% of voters rejecting the notion that Johnson’s actions as prime minister were offenses worth resigning over.
Johnson announced his resignation as prime minister after a flurry of scandals hit the administration, including backlash when it emerged that Johnson knew a parliamentary member had a history of sexual misconduct and still promoted the member, as well as his administration’s flouting its breach of COVID-19 protocols during a nationwide lockdown. Johnson is still serving as prime minister until a new leader is selected.
Supporters of Johnson have praised his handling of the United Kingdom’s response to the war in Ukraine, which includes a close relationship between the leaders of both countries, his guidance of the country during Brexit, when the U.K. left the European Union, and his guidance during the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent economic fallout.
Truss led in the poll among voting party members asked who would best handle six important issues, including Russia’s war in Ukraine, defense, migration, cost of living, housing, and the National Health Service. Sunak performed best among voting members when it came to helping the country work with the NHS and cost of living, though only 30%-31% named him as the best candidate on both issues.
The survey comes after the Conservative Party implemented new security measures ahead of September’s prime ministerial election. Nearly 180,000 members of the Conservative Party will be sent ballots by Aug. 11.
Under the party’s original system, members were allowed to change their votes while the ballot remained open, but supposed vulnerabilities in the system raised concerns about hackers being able to change a voter’s ballot, and the new system now provides a unique code that will only allow one unchangeable vote, the party announced Wednesday.