Johnson set for crushing victory over Hunt in race for next British PM, poll suggests

According to a YouGov poll published in the Times newspaper, Mr Boris Johnson is backed by 74 per cent of Conservative Party members with Mr Jeremy Hunt languishing at 26 per cent.
According to a YouGov poll published in the Times newspaper, Mr Boris Johnson is backed by 74 per cent of Conservative Party members with Mr Jeremy Hunt languishing at 26 per cent.PHOTO: AFP

LONDON (BLOOMBERG) - Boris Johnson looks set for a landslide victory over rival Jeremy Hunt in the race to become Britain's next prime minister.

According to a YouGov poll published in the Times newspaper, Mr Johnson is backed by 74 per cent of Conservative Party members with Mr Hunt languishing at 26 per cent.

The survey also suggests that the vast majority of the 160,000 grassroots party members who will receive their ballot papers this weekend don't believe Mr Hunt's claim that he's prepared to take Britain out of the European Union without a deal. Only 27 per cent think Mr Hunt would do so, compared with 90 per cent for Mr Johnson.

In an interview with the Times, Mr Hunt sought to play down perceptions that Mr Johnson's status as the Brexit referendum's poster child would influence the outcome of the vote. Preparing for a exit without an agreement with Brussels is key, he said, adding that the best way to deliver Brexit would be to do so with an accord.

"The choice on this election isn't actually between our approach to no-deal, it's who is the candidate who is most likely to negotiate a deal so that we don't have those difficult decisions to take," Mr Hunt said.

In an interview with the Daily Mail, Mr Johnson responded to a question on what he would do if, by the Brexit deadline at the end of October, the EU has refused to reopen the Withdrawal Agreement and Parliament has blocked a no-deal exit, saying it wouldn’t happen “in a month of Sundays.”

Brexit has become an “existential” issue for both main parties so they need to “move on and get it done,” the newspaper quoted him as saying. 

In the Daily Mail interview Mr Johnson sought to buttress his law and order credentials with a commitment to ensure that serious sexual or violent offenders serve out their full sentences rather than being released at the halfway point as at present. Restrictions on stop-and-search, put in place by Theresa May when she was Home Secretary, should be dumped, he said.

The new prime minister is expected to be announced - and then take office - during the week of July 22.