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Who do MPs think will be their next party leader?

Conservative MPs predict that Boris Johnson will be the next leader of the Conservative Party and Labour MPs envisage Keir Starmer as the next leader of the Labour Party.

When asked who they think will be their next leader – whether in six months’ or six years’ time, and however the opening arises – a third (32%) of Conservative MPs identify the Foreign Secretary and a fifth name the Brexit Secretary, David Davis.

These two personalities, both of whom have been regularly tipped to lead the party for many years, are followed, at some distance, by Dominic Raab and Damian Green, both mentioned by just 5% of their party.

The next Labour leader is more difficult to forecast as nearly half of Labour MPs are not prepared to make a prediction.

The top three tips for the next Labour leader are highlighted by only a small proportion of their party with Keir Starmer mentioned by 15%, Yvette Cooper by 13% and Angela Rayner by 11%. It is notable that no Labour MP reckoned that John McDonnell would be their next leader.

The predictions of MPs across all parties suggest that Jo Swinson, mentioned by 29% of MPs, is the most likely to be the next leader of the Liberal Democrats.

If the predictions of Conservative and Labour MPs are accurate, PMQs is likely to pit Starmer against Johnson. Starmer, a barrister and former Director of Public Prosecutions lauded for his razor-sharp and rigorous approach, will pose a difficult challenge for the mercurial Johnson, known for his amusing turn-of-phrase and winning ways with the electorate.

However, before getting carried away with anticipation of the rhetorical feast that a Starmer v Johnson PMQs would entail, it is worth remembering that front runners rarely end up being the next party leaders.

Recent Tory leadership elections have rarely been won from the front and the last time that Populus asked MPs to predict who would be the next leader of the Labour party in 2015, Jeremy Corbyn was not mentioned by a single MP.

Populus interviewed 102 Members of Parliament on the Populus MP Panel during July and August 2017. Data were weighted to be politically representative of the House of Commons. For information about the Populus MP Panel contact David Racadio (dracadio@populus.co.uk).

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