Readers will remember that March’s Cabinet League Table contained quite a remarkable showing for the Prime Minister. Apparently as a result of her confident response to Russia’s attack on Salisbury, she had gained almost 47 percentage points to leap to a positive rating of +56.4, up from a miserable +9.1 the month before. To paraphrase the investment adverts, reputations can go down as well as up, however – and Theresa May now finds herself with a net negative rating, languishing at -9.5.
Unsurprisingly, this appears to be a reflection of Party members’ frustrations about her Brexit performance.
Other ministers have suffered heavy reputational losses at the same time, apparently for the same reason. Philip Hammond – long an occupant of the lower end of the table – is again the lowest-ranked minister, falling to a grim -24.8. Perhaps due to the ongoing row over the Northern Irish border, Karen Bradley loses over 20 points, falling to +13.7. A particularly notable casualty is David Davis: the Brexit Secretary normally enjoys a top five position, with a rating around +60, but this month he suffers a loss of almost 20 percentage points, falling to ninth place with a rating of +43.5.
In fact, there has been a general slide for the League Table as a whole. If we add together all the ratings on the table, positive and negative, then we can see that the total approval rating for the whole group fell by almost 18 per cent from April to May. That implies that the difficulties Downing Street is suffering on Brexit are contaminating the reputation of many of those around the top table – not surprisingly, given it is the dominant issue of the day.
Some ministers manage to buck the trend, however. Sajid Javid gains ten percentage points to climb to second place, snapping at Gove’s heels and ahead even of Ruth Davidson. Brandon Lewis, whose ratings had dipped a little before the local elections, bounces back with a gain of eight percentage points to a healthy +48.1. And David Gauke, who was in negative figures back in March after the Worboys mess, has fought his way back to +27.1.
(Due to an oversight last month, we failed to publish the April Cabinet League Table. I’ve enclosed it below. Notably, it reveals that Caroline Nokes first fell into negative territory last month, presumably a reflection of the Windrush scandal given her role as Immigration Minister.)