Johnson Set for Crushing Victory Over Hunt, Poll Suggests
(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, Johnson is backed by 74% of Conservative Party members with Hunt languishing on 26%.
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 Hunt’s claim that he’s prepared to take Britain out of the European Union without a deal. Only 27% think Hunt would do so, compared with 90% for Johnson.
In an interview with the Times, Hunt sought to play down perceptions that Johnson’s status as the Brexit referendum’s poster child would influence the outcome of the vote. Preparing for an exit without an agreement with Brussels is key, he said, adding that the best way to deliver Brexit would be 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,” Hunt said.
In an interview with the Daily Mail, 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 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.
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