Kemi Badenoch most popular minister among Tory supporters, survey finds

Kemi Badenoch has emerged as the most popular cabinet minister in Rishi Sunak’s government, according to a survey charting the views of the Conservative grassroots.

The business and trade secretary has replaced Ben Wallace as the Tory supporters’ favourite after the well-liked defence secretary left office last week.

Ms Badenoch tops ConservativeHome’s regular survey of supporters with a positive rating of 59 – eleven points clear of the next most popular minister, Commons leader Penny Mordaunt on 48.

Foreign secretary James Cleverly and veterans minister Johnny Mercer also enjoy strong support with the grassroots – boasting healthy ratings of 43 and 39 respectively.

But the latest will be grim reading for Downing Street. Mr Sunak and Jeremy Hunt are among the least popular minister with the Tory faithful – with the prime minister slipping back into negative ratings.

Mr Sunak, having been in negative ratings for much of the year, saw a recovery last month, when he up at mid-table, albeit on only 21 points.

But the PM has fallen back into negative ratings – on minus 3 – in this month’s poll of Tory backers.

Mr Hunt is even more unpopular among the grassroots, many of whom want tax cuts, with a minus 15 rating that makes him the third least popular cabinet figure.

Rishi Sunak has fallen back into negative ratings (PA Wire)
Rishi Sunak has fallen back into negative ratings (PA Wire)

On the environment secretary Therese Coffey (minus 23) and immigration minister Robert Jenrick (minus 27) are more unpopular.

Ms Coffey has been under pressure over the sewage scandals, while Mr Jenrick appears to have borne the brunt of frustration over small boats, since Suella Braverman remains among the most popular ministers with a rating of +21.

Paul Goodman, editor of ConservativeHome, said that in the first survey of the year, no minister ranked below 30 points. Now, only five rank above that mark, with eight in negative ratings.

He said it showed a “demoralised” Tory based preparing for Labour to win the general election in 2024. “This is the response of a demoralised panel braced for defeat,” he wrote.

Ms Badenoch, with her anti-woke attacks on “identity politics”, won widespread on the Tory right during last year’s contest to succeed Boris Johnson and is viewed as a strong future leadership contender.

She led talks as the UK formally agreed to become the first European country to join a major Indo-Pacific trade bloc – hailed as “momentous” despite forecasts placing its value at just £1.8bn a year.

The trade secretary recently lashed out at her Brexit critics during her round of Sunday interviews – claiming they had been wrong to “laugh” at the government and should “stop talking Britain down”.