Boris Johnson and Michael Gove
'Leave' spokesmen Michael Gove and Boris Johnson are among the favourites to succeed CameronGetty/Reuters

David Cameron's successor as Conservative leader should be a top Eurosceptic, according to the party's grassroots. Justice secretary Michael Gove, outgoing Mayor of London Boris Johnson and former defence secretary Liam Fox are the leading three favourites to take the top job among Tory activists.

The Conservative Home poll will be a blow to chancellor George Osborne, who reportedly has ambitions to take over from Cameron when the prime minister steps down before the end of 2020. The April survey put Gove in front on 26%, with Osborne's rating dropping to 9%.

The findings come after Osborne faced a rebellion over his 2016 Budget because of planned cuts to disability benefits. The row led to the dramatic resignation of Iain Duncan Smith as work and pensions secretary, leaving Cameron's administration in crisis.

"I hope as the government goes forward you can look again, however, at the balance of the cuts you have insisted upon and wonder if enough has been done to ensure 'we are all in this together'," Duncan Smith wrote in his resignation letter.

PoliticianAprilMarch
Michael Gove26%20%
Boris Johnson20%33%
Liam Fox16%18%
Theresa May11%10%
George Osborne9%11%
This is what you really need to know about the Brexit voteIBTimes UK

Osborne would later U-turn on the proposal, leading to questions about how the chancellor would find the £4.4bn ($6.1bn) created by the embarrassing climb down.

Sajid Javid, who scored 7% in the grassroots poll, has also recently faced criticism. The business secretary flew to Australia with his daughter as Tata Steel bosses held a crucial meeting in Mumbai.

Trade union representative and Labour MP Stephen Kinnock travelled to India, while Javid was still in Australia when Tata bosses announced plans to sell off its entire UK business.

The 'remain' campaigner later cut his trip short and met steel workers and trade union officials at Tata's Port Talbot plant in south Wales.

The results come as the referendum on the UK's membership of EU nears. Cameron's cabinet is split over the historic ballot, with the likes of Gove and Northern Ireland Secretary Theresa Villiers backing a Brexit at the 23 June vote.

EU referendum opinion polls

DatePollsterRemainLeaveUndecidedMethod
1 Apr–3 AprICM44%43%13%Online
29 Mar–3 AprOBR51%44%5%Telephone
29 Mar - 1 AprOpinium39%42%18%Online
24-29 MarTNS35%35%30%Online
24-29 MarBMG Research41%45%14%Online