Friday 20 September 2019

Boris 'must broaden his appeal if he's to win an election'

Mr Johnson has been rallying support for his leadership bid among Conservative lawmakers and the wider party by saying he is the only candidate who can deliver Brexit and win a national election. Photo: Reuters/Henry Nicholls
Mr Johnson has been rallying support for his leadership bid among Conservative lawmakers and the wider party by saying he is the only candidate who can deliver Brexit and win a national election. Photo: Reuters/Henry Nicholls

Dean Grey

Boris Johnson, frontrunner to replace British Prime Minister Theresa May, cannot win a general election without broadening his appeal to floating voters who instinctively distrust him, Conservative polling specialist Robert Hayward said yesterday.

Mr Johnson (54), a former London mayor and foreign minister, has been rallying support for his leadership bid among Conservative lawmakers and the wider party by saying he is the only candidate who can deliver Brexit and win a national election.

But Mr Hayward, a Conservative member of parliament's upper chamber, told reporters that while the first part of his message - that he can deliver Britain's delayed departure from the European Union - is scoring well with voters, his lack of appeal among so-called middle England could lose him any election.

Referring to recent polls by Deltapoll, Opinium and YouGov, Mr Hayward said: "They basically show that a Tory PM or leader can't win without Brexiteers' votes... but you can't win without this middle ground."

More than 10 would-be successors have entered the race to replace Mrs May, who announced she was stepping down after failing to deliver Brexit on time.

The governing Conservative Party says that the contest will be finished by the end of July.

Mr Hayward said that Mr Johnson had to win over so-called floating voters, people who do not have strong opinions on either Brexit or remaining in the EU but do want good government, and that many of them were instinctively distrustful of the former mayor.

Foreign Minister Jeremy Hunt, among the favourites to replace Mrs May, scored the highest among these voters, he said.

Irish Independent

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