The Tories have clawed back support from the Brexit Party since the race for Number 10 got underway, YouGov polling data has revealed.
The Conservative Party sunk to just 17 per cent in the polls immediately after Theresa May quit as leader on June 7 while Nigel Farage’s party was riding high on 26 per cent.
But the Tories have steadily regained some of their popularity since then, with the latest YouGov poll putting the party top on 25 per cent with Mr Farage’s new political vehicle having dropped to 19 per cent.
The data shows the Conservatives have been reinvigorated by the contest to replace Mrs May, which kicked off in earnest on June 13 with the first ballot of Tory MPs, as Mr Johnson and rival Jeremy Hunt have battled it out for the top job.
Mr Johnson’s decision to ditch his early ‘bunker’ campaign strategy in favour of a more aggressive and public-facing plan also appears to have given the Tories a big shot in the arm.
However, a separate YouGov poll conducted on behalf of the pro-EU Best for Britain group suggests Mr Johnson, the overwhelming favourite to be installed as the new PM next Wednesday, will have a lot of work to do to win over the country if and when he takes office.
The survey found that 58 per cent of voters said Mr Johnson cannot be trusted while just 21 per cent said he can be. Some 21 per cent said they did not know either way.
Meanwhile, supporters of the Conservative Party are split right down the middle on the same issue with 40 per cent saying they trust Mr Johnson compared to 37 per cent who said they do not.
The latest polling data came as Remainer MPs launched a fresh bid to try to prevent a No Deal Brexit with pro-EU ministers threatening to quit to join the mutiny.
Separately, the Office for Budget Responsibility, the UK’s financial watchdog, warned a disorderly divorce could send Britain into a recession and leave a £30billion in the public finances.
The Conservatives crashed to fourth in the polls after Mrs May resigned as party leader sparking fears about the future electoral viability of the Tories.
But the battle between Mr Johnson and Mr Hunt appears to have breathed new life into the Tories and taken some of the wind out of the sails of The Brexit Party.
Mr Farage and his party have seen support drop in recent weeks as both Mr Johnson and Mr Hunt talked tough on their commitments to ensure the UK leaves the EU on October 31.
Mr Johnson said he will deliver Brexit ‘do or die’ by Halloween with or without a deal while his challenger has also stressed the importance of sticking to the current deadline – although he has said he would agree a short delay if a new deal was in sight.
Tory leadership contest: What happens next?
Friday July 19: Effective deadline for Tory members to put their ballot in the post.
Monday July 22: Voting closes at 5pm.
Tuesday July 23: The winner of the contest is announced.
Wednesday July 24: Theresa May will hold her final PMQs before visiting the Queen to resign. The winner will also see the Queen and then become PM.
Thursday July 25: Parliament is due to break for its summer recess.
As a result, the Tories have gone from 17 per cent in a YouGov poll conducted on June 9-10 to 20 per cent, 22 per cent, 24 per cent and 25 per cent in the weeks that followed.
Over the same period The Brexit Party dropped from 26 per cent to 23 per cent, 21 per cent and now 19 per cent.
The separate poll on trust in Mr Johnson revealed eight in 10 Labour supporters said he cannot be trusted and 77 per cent of Lib Dem supporters said the same thing.
The survey also shows the scale of opposition to Mr Johnson among people who voted for Britain to remain in the European Union at the 2016 referendum.
Some 82 per cent of Remainers said the Tory favourite cannot be trusted while just seven per cent said he can be.
YouGov data published immediately after Theresa May resigned as Tory leader had the Conservatives in fourth place on just 17 per cent
Boris Johnson (pictured last night at the final Tory leadership hustings event) is the overwhelming favourite to be the next PM
Jeremy Hunt (pictured leaving last night’s hustings in London, is a self-described ‘underdog’ in the race for Number 10 but he believes he is still in with a shot
Theresa May’s announcement on May 24 that she would stand down has appeared to spark a mild turnaround in Conservative Party popularity
UK budget watchdog issues stark No Deal warning
A No Deal Brexit will send Britain into a recession and leave a £30billion hole in the public finances, the UK’s budget watchdog warned today.
In its first assessment of the economic impact of crashing out without a deal this Autumn, the Office for Budget Responsibility said the Pound would nosedive by 10 per cent and the stock market by 5 per cent, pushing up inflation.
It said trade barriers and ‘declining confidence’ would make the economy shrink 2 per cent by the end of 2020, with the slump lasting a year.
However, Chancellor Philip Hammond warned that even the OBR’s grim assessment underplayed the real risk – saying vision of No Deal being pushed by Boris Johnson would mean the country is ‘hit much harder’.
Mr Johnson, one of the architects of the Leave vote, does enjoy more support among Brexit voters but even they are split broadly down the middle.
Some 37 per cent said he cannot be trusted and 38 per cent said he can be.
The poll of 1,675 people was conducted on behalf of the second referendum-supporting Best for Britain campaign group.
David Lammy, the Labour MP and a prominent supporter of the group, said: ‘Boris Johnson is a shoe-in to become prime minister this week, but nobody trusts him – not even Conservative voters.
‘And why should they? Just last week he threw our ambassador to the US under a bus in a desperate attempt to cosy up to Donald Trump.
‘With reports that Boris Johnson is threatening to suspend Parliament in order to force through a disastrous No Deal Brexit, I fear public trust in politicians will sink to a new low.’
Team Johnson did not respond to a request for comment.
Justice Secretary David Gauke (pictured left), who has already said he will not serve under Mr Johnson, this morning refused to rule out resigning to join the revolt. Chancellor Philip Hammond (right) is also thought to be considering his position
MPs are set to vote this afternoon on legislation that could thwart any effort by Mr Johnson to suspend Parliament to ensure Brexit happens on October 31.
Mr Johnson has repeatedly refused to rule out using the constitutionally explosive tactic – although he has made clear it would not be his first choice.
Justice Secretary David Gauke, who has already said he will not serve under Mr Johnson, this morning refused to rule out resigning to join the revolt.
Chancellor Philip Hammond was also thought to be considering his position – but aides insisted that he has no plans to quit.
Dozens more Tories on the Remainer wing could abstain to help avert the measure go through.
EU chief compares UK Brexit negotiating team to ‘Dad’s Army’
Frans Timmermans, 58, compared British negotiators to Corporal Jones shouting ‘Don’t panic, don’t panic!’
Brussels believed the UK would produce Harry Potter-style wizardry in Brexit negotiations but instead faced a team like Corporal Jones from Dad’s Army shouting ‘don’t panic, don’t panic’, according to a top EU official.
Frans Timmermans, the European Commission vice president, also accused Boris Johnson of ‘playing games’ with Brussels during his time as foreign secretary.
Mr Timmermans said in an interview with BBC1’s Panorama, which will be broadcast tomorrow night, British negotiators reminded him of Lance Corporal Jones in comedy classic Dad’s Army, as they were ‘running around like idiots’.
In the interview, which was recorded in March, Mr Timmermans said: ‘We thought they are so brilliant that in some vault somewhere in Westminster there will be a Harry Potter-like book with all the tricks and all the things in it to do.
‘And then the first time I saw public utterances by David Davis and I saw him not coming, not negotiating, grandstanding elsewhere I thought: “Oh my God they haven’t got a plan, they haven’t got a plan”.
‘That was really shocking frankly because the damage if you don’t have a plan – you know, we see it – time’s running out and you don’t have a plan, it’s like Lance Corporal Jones, you know, “Don’t panic, don’t panic!”, running around like idiots.’
Mr Timmermans also said he was not sure Mr Johnson was ‘being genuine’ in his approach to the EU while foreign secretary.
He said: ‘I always had the impression he was playing games.’