May pulls ahead in Tory leadership race

  • 03/07/2016
May pulls ahead in Tory leadership race

Theresa May is racing towards victory, with most Conservatives backing her to replace Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron, polling has revealed.

Bitter recriminations over rival Michael Gove's decision to pull the rug from under Boris Johnson's leadership bid appear to have dented his prospects of taking on the Home Secretary in the final vote.

The Justice Secretary faces being pushed into third place by fellow Brexit campaigner Andrea Leadsom, whose support is growing.

Former City worker Ms Leadsom has likened herself to Margaret Thatcher and praised the late prime minister's ability to mix toughness with "personal warmth".

She told The Sunday Telegraph: "As a person, she was always kind and courteous and as a leader she was steely and determined.

"I think that's an ideal combination - and I do like to think that's where I am."

Mr Gove has faced accusations of "treachery" since his decision to pull his support for Mr Johnson and stage his own bid for the top job.

With levels of support stronger than the combined total of her four rivals, Ms May appears to be on course to take the keys to No 10.

The Home Secretary was backed by 60 percent of Tory voters, with Mr Gove second on 10 points and Ms Leadsom on six, according to the ICM poll for The Sun on Sunday.

Among party members, who will vote to decide the winner of the leadership contest, some 46 percent say she would make the best prime minister.

Ms May has also been backed by more MPs, who select the final two candidates to go on to the ballot paper, than any of the other candidates.

Although the poll puts Mr Gove, who has wider name recognition, ahead of Ms Leadsom, bookies have slashed the odds on the junior minister making it through the knock-out stages in Parliament to go up against Ms May in the head-to-head.

More than half of those polled - 55 percent - by ICM were unable to give any view on Ms Leadsom or Work and Pensions Secretary Stephen Crabb, who have lower profiles than the long-standing Cabinet ministers, and 42 percent had the same problem with former frontbencher Liam Fox.

ICM director Martin Boon told The Sun on Sunday: "The race to replace David Cameron might turn from a marathon into a sprint judging by these results. Theresa May is blasting out of the blocks and leaving her fellow competitors for dead."