The leader of the Brexit Party was named by an astonishing 15 percent of the 781 Tory councillors polled by Survation between April 17 and 19 as favourite next leader. He came second after former Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, who received 19 percent of the preferences. The two hardline Brexiteers were more popular than a number of candidates including Michael Gove, Jeremy Hunt, Sajid Javid and Dominic Raab.
In a competition not including Mr Farage, the survey shows that almost a quarter of the councillor would choose Mr Johnson, followed by Mr Gove on 14 percent, Mr Hunt on 12 percent and Mr Javid on 11 percent.
But with the leader of the Brexit Party included in the field, Mr Javid would come third on 11 percent.
These findings show that the Tory grassroots, who have a say on who is elected as a leader by the party’s members, are ready to elect an eurosceptic leader.
But the survey also unveiled a deep crisis within the Conservative Party, with 40 percent of the Tory councillors openly saying they will boycott the Conservative Party and vote for Mr Farage’s one at the May 23 European Parliament elections.
At the emergency EU summit on April 10 Mrs May agreed to take part in the election in exchange of a six-month extension to Article 50.
Britain would be able to opt out of the vote only if MPs agreed on a Brexit deal and passed the withdrawal agreement bill by May 22.
The Prime Minister seems to be the main cause of upset within the Tory grassroots movement, as some 65 percent of the councillors said they would still back the Conservative Party at the EU elections if Mr Johnson was leading the Tories, the poll revealed.
As many as three quarters of the councillors demanded Mrs May’s resignation because of her handling of Brexit and 43 percent saying she should quit on the spot, the survey also shows.
And an overwhelmingly majority of 96 percent of the polled said that the Brexit deadlock had damaged the Conservative Party.
One councillor in the Survation study said: “The Conservative Party is dead. It will take a strong leader to dredge it out of the mud.”
Another said Brexit was “killing us on the doorstep” and the party needed to just “get on with it”.
The survey comes after a poll by Comres yesterday suggested the Tories stand to lose 41 seats at the next election with 29 Leave MPs set to be ousted as voters switch to Labour, the Liberal Democrats and SNP.
And, as showed by an analysis of two YouGov surveys, the Conservative Party is risking an hemorrhage of votes at the European ballot, with Mr Farage surging to 25 percent of the preferences between April 11 and 15 while Mrs May’s party plunged to 15 percent.
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