• Wednesday, July 24, 2024

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Nearly half of Tory members support merger with Reform, poll finds

Badenoch has emerged as the favourite for the next party leader.

Kemi Badenoch. (Photo by Carl Court/Getty Images)

By: Pramod Thomas

NEARLY half of Tory grassroots members support merging with Nigel Farage’s Reform UK, according to a poll. Also, Kemi Badenoch has emerged as the favourite for the next party leader.

YouGov data collected since the general election indicated that Badenoch, a former business secretary and a notable critic of Rishi Sunak’s decision to call a summer election, has double the grassroots support of both Suella Braverman, the hardline former home secretary, and Tom Tugendhat, the centrist former security minister.

The poll, part of the party members project by researchers at Queen Mary, University of London, and Sussex University, indicated that 47 per cent of Tory grassroots members support merging with Reform UK, reported The Guardian.

Support for this merger is particularly strong among over-50s and lower-income members.

Potential leadership candidates Priti Patel and Robert Jenrick have minimal backing, with Patel at 6 per cent and Jenrick at 7 per cent. James Cleverly, the former home secretary positioning himself as a unity candidate, has 10 per cent support. Meanwhile, a fifth of the members would prefer the return of Boris Johnson, and 10 per cent would like Nigel Farage to lead the party.

Braverman is the sole leadership contender advocating for an alliance with Farage and Reform UK. In contrast, Cleverly calls for party unity, stressing a broad-church approach to reclaim lost voters from both the left and right.

At a shadow cabinet meeting, Badenoch reportedly criticised Sunak’s early election decision as “disastrous” and bordering on unconstitutional. She also commented on Braverman’s “very public” breakdown following controversial statements.

Braverman’s right-wing allies, Danny Kruger and Sir John Hayes, are now supporting Jenrick’s leadership bid, reports said.

Veteran Tory Bob Blackman, newly elected head of the influential 1922 Committee, will help set the rules for the upcoming leadership contest.

He already suggested a longer contest to reflect on the election defeat. However, Mark Francois, a right-wing Tory MP, criticised the chaotic vote for the 1922 committee chair, noting that several colleagues missed the vote.

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