Ben Wallace, the defense secretary in the cabinet of outgoing Prime Minister Boris Johnson, is the top contender to assume the role of new Tory leader, a snap YouGov poll revealed on Thursday.
Wallace, who garnered 13% in the poll, is followed by MP Penny Mordaunt (12%), who in her career has served as the state minister for trade policy and secretary of state for defense and also for international development.Rishi Sunak, the former chancellor of the Exchequer, whose protest resignation this week was one of the earliest among dozens by Johnson cabinet officials, was in third place with 10%. Other conservatives on the list included Foreign Secretary Liz Truss, former housing minister Michael Gove and Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab, among others.
The poll further showed Wallace ahead by comfortable margins in all head-to-head matchups. Sunak would do the best with 30% against Wallace’s 51%. A Wallace-Truss matchup came out at 48% to 29% in favor of Wallace, a 19-point margin. Truss narrowly beats Mordaunt and would also prevail against either Sunak or Hunt, the poll indicated.
Johnson resigned on Thursday, after the most recent in a string of scandals that have hit his government lately triggered a rebellion among Conservative Party officials. He said a new leader would emerge to continue his agenda, identifying Brexit and support of Ukraine as among the key achievements of his tenure.
Former Russian president Dmitry Medvedev commented on Johnson’s departure with a degree of sarcasm, stating that “the best friends of Ukraine” were on the way out in the UK. He called the resignation “a natural outcome of the British insolence and incompetent policies, especially on the international track.”
Those with the best chances of replacing Johnson at the helm of the British government have also been hawkish towards Russia. Relations between the two countries have deteriorated significantly in recent decades.