Tory leadership frontrunner Boris Johnson would win a general election for the Tories by a landslide, according to a poll released on the eve of the launch of his bid to become prime minister.
In a poll conducted by ComRes for the Daily Telegraph - the newspaper that employs Johnson as a columnist and which is his staunchest supporter on Fleet Street - it showed a party led by him would be on 37%, with Labour on 22%, the LibDems on 20% and the Brexit party on 14%.
When the polling data was fed into the Electoral Calculus website to come up with the seat predictions, it suggested the Conservatives would win 395 seats out of 651, with Labour on just 151.
This would be a majority of 140 seats and would see the threat from Nigel Farage’s Brexit party nullified.
Under every other leadership candidate, the party fails to gain an overall majority by various degrees, and also sees the Brexit party pick up seats on the party’s right.
Dominic Raab, another hard-Brexiteer is the next most popular figure after Johnson, polling at 269 seats to Labour’s 237 with the Brexit party on 24 - leaving the Tories 57 seats short of a majority.
No other candidate achieves a lead over Labour - Jeremy Hunt (224 seats), Michael Gove (184) and Said Javid (138) all concede the status of largest party in the Commons to Jeremy Corbyn’s party, and see the Brexit party take up to 123 seats.
The worst scenario for the Tories would come if they elected Rory Stewart. Under the current international development secretary, the Tories would be practically wiped out, with just 51 seats, behind Labour on 213 and the Brexit party on an enormous 252 seats.
The poll will have a galvanising effect on Mr Johnson’s campaign, which has suffered from accusations that the candidate was being screened from serious questioning and attacks on his plans for tax cuts for the wealthy.
The BBC’s former political editor Nick Robinson tweeted: “This poll matters. Not because a survey about a hypothetical contest can ever predict the future. It can’t. However, it is likely to have quite an impact on the psyches of Tory MPs & members who are desperate for an answer to Farage & Corbyn”.
Other political observers were more circumspect, with some questioning the minutiae of the data, while others pointed out that ComRes gave Theresa May 50% of the vote and a lead of 25% over Labour in a poll released six weeks before the 2017 general election.
Johnson remains the clear leader in terms of support from MPs. Sky News’s running tally of committed MPs suggests he has 74 MPs backing him, with Jeremy Hunt second with 32 and Michael Gove third with two less supporters.