Majority of Conservative Party members back David Davis for leader. A YouGov poll for the Telegraph which asked both Party members and voters who they would rate as their first or second choice for leader shows 54 per cent of Conservative Party members support David Davis; 30 per cent backed the Shadow Education Secretary, David Cameron, 24 per cent supported Liam Fox, the Shadow Foreign Secretary and 19 per cent backed Kenneth Clarke the former Chancellor. A leader in the paper urged all potential candidates to begin to sell themselves now, rather than wait for the contest to be officially declared: “Potential candidates should not make personal attacks on each other, but that need not stop proper policy debate. It is no good waiting until the whistle blows for the official start of the leadership campaign. That may not be before September, when the party's National Convention meets to decide on the election rules. Meanwhile, public support for the Party is ebbing away. In these exceptional circumstances, members of the Shadow Cabinet should not feel bound by a collective responsibility for policies that nobody dares articulate, because nobody is quite sure what they are. The debate on the Conservatives’ future must start right now – and all party members should feel free to speak their minds openly.” In a letter to the paper, former Prime Minister, Sir John Major, clarified earlier comments made in an interview (see Reform Media Summary, 31 May 2005) and denied that he had ever “hinted” that he would support a challenge by Kenneth Clarke to stop David Davis – “I did no such thing”, he said (Telegraph, p.1, p.4, p.21 [leader]).
Kenneth Clarke faces backlash from right-wing Conservative MPs about his allies’ comments that the French ‘no’ vote means that he can now become leader (FT, p.4; Mail, p.20).