Ahead of a crunch meeting of the Cabinet, at which more than one political future may hang in the balance, our Cabinet League Table provides a timely update on how various ministers rank with the party.
- Javid and Gove top the poll… Last month we wrote that Michael Gove had only just held onto his first-placed position against a very strong challenge by the Home Secretary. This time he loses out (albeit by just 1.5 percentage points) as Sajid Javid starts to cement his position as the front-runner du jour. This matches the result of our ‘run-off’, published earlier this week, which also saw the Environment Secretary edged out by just two per cent.
- …as Johnson and Williamson languish. By contrast to the above two, the very public leadership ambitions of the Foreign and Defence secretaries will have been done no favours by these results. Although avoiding a negative score, one-time favourite Boris Johnson is stuck on a net approval rating of less than 13 per cent. Gavin Williamson meanwhile can’t even get into double-figures, despite a high-profile campaign on defence spending which one might have expected to play well with the Conservative base.
- Mordaunt in third. It’s been a good month for the International Development Secretary, who has put on 12 points to claim third place in our table from Esther McVey. Penny Mordaunt has been in the news this month proposing to use the aid budget to support ex-servicemen, which will likely have gone down well with Tory members. But can she maintain both this high score and her commitment to reforming the Gender Recognition Act?
- ‘Soft Brexiteers’ in the red. The papers are briefing that Philip Hammond and Greg Clark are the two ministers Theresa May has tasked with rolling the pitch for soft Brexit at Chequers, and in light of such coverage it’s no surprise that both men are now posting a negative score (Clark at least was in the black last month). The Prime Minister herself has also shed ten points to sink from -9.5 to -19.5 – no wonder we also saw a record high result for members believing she should resign before the next election.
- Grayling nosedives. Last month the Transport Secretary barely clung on to a positive score (0.1 per cent!), but another month of rail chaos has seen his rating take a pounding. At -27.5 he is now the most unpopular Cabinet minister amongst the membership save veteran Philip Hammond, and following Caroline Nokes’ ascent back into the positive appears to be the only negative score unconnected to Brexit.
- No anti-Davies wave. The leader of the Welsh Tories was suddenly ousted this month, but there is no sign that his stock had suffered any fall with the membership before he stepped down. Andrew RT Davies seems to have been scoring in the low-to-mid-thirties for as long as this poll has run, and whilst that reflects the relative obscurity of his post it was also a higher and more consistent score than that achieved by many cabinet ministers. It will be interesting to see how his replacement (likely a remainer) fares in his place.