A couple of weeks ago a senior Tory messaged me from Westminster suggesting that the Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, was over the worst and could be on the way back. So this latest polling comes as no real surprise.
His negatives like the non-Dom status now seem minimal compared with those of the incumbent.
Johnson’s position at the moment has been helped by the lack of any real alternative. The former HealthSec and 2019 leadership finalist, Hunt, made what appeared to be a bid last month but without it really going anywhere. His problem is that he lacks star quality.
Sunak, of course, has this in spades and what he has surely learned from the past six months is that the leadership is not going to be given to him on a plate. It has to be fought for which probably means he has to make a move of some sort that could put him at risk.
Next Friday morning we will all be analysing the by-election results and what they could mean for Johnson’s future. If the betting has this right then both seats will be lost by the Tories. A real issue might be the scale of any defeat and how much blame is attached to the PM. Two terrible by-election outcomes might be enough for the 1922 Committee to open up the leadership issue again in spite of the 12 month rule.
As longstanding PBers will know I have a £20 bet at 250/1 with Ladbrokes placed in November 2019 that Sunak will be the next PM. Maybe that still could be a winner.