Given that the next leader of the Conservative Party is set to be announced on 23rd July, a few days before the point at which we will carry out our next monthly survey, this will likely be the final Cabinet League Table for this ministerial line-up.
Some of those listed above will no doubt survive to serve in the next administration, but others will find their futures in doubt – and so may be looking at these numbers with a touch of hope or trepidation.
A few key findings to note:
Theresa May’s final score. The outgoing Prime Minister has featured in every one of these surveys since ConservativeHome began asking this question of our panel in January 2007 – covering the last 12 years of her total of two decades at Cabinet and Shadow Cabinet level. She ends that run on a low, with a net rating of -61.2.
An overall improvement in ratings. As a group, the total net score of the Cabinet plus Davidson and Davies rose to +92.6 this month. That’s the first positive score since January, and the highest collective rating since October (the month before May presented her deal).
As the chart below shows, this is still a pretty meagre level of approval historically, but it is better than the truly dire numbers we saw in March, April and May. Even the Prime Minister’s numbers have improved a bit, rising 7.5 points on last month. Why the improvement?
Some of it will be a symptom of the leadership contest, as candidates and their supporters gain ground by becoming better known and promoting their opinions and abilities. But, bluntly, some of it appears to be a first sign of Tory ministers starting to escape from the toxic reputation of the Prime Minister – a bump from May’s decision to leave office.
Watch the leadership candidates – Hunt, Gove, Hancock, Javid and Stewart. Jeremy Hunt has certainly gained ground since last month, with his rating rising from +23.9 to +41.7. Michael Gove makes slim gains, up from +24.3 to +30.2. Matt Hancock is sizeably up, too, from +5.6 to +25.7. However, the biggest beneficiary of having been a candidate is Sajid Javid, who picks up a whopping 31.1 extra points, leaping from +22.8 in May to +53.9 in June. By contrast, despite all the publicity and his better-than-expected run in the Parliamentary rounds, Rory Stewart’s rating has barely changed, from -18 last month to -20 today. That’s a result in keeping with the wider sense that while he has ardent fans within the Party, many of his enthusiasts are currently not among the membership. Javid and Hancock appear to have reaped the most from the race.
A windfall for Boris Johnson allies? The current front-runner in the leadership contest is not, of course, in the Cabinet at present, so does not appear in this table. But it’s notable that several of the Cabinet ministers backing him appear to have made noticeable gains in their rating this month. Geoffrey Cox gains 20.2 points. Steve Barclay gains 12.5. Liz Truss gains 8.4. Alun Cairns gains 11.5. I wonder if they are benefiting somewhat by association. Penny Mordaunt is probably the most prominent Hunt supporter in the league table – having topped it last month – and receives an almost identical rating in these results, although she is leapfrogged by Cox, Javid and Truss.