Ben Wallace went to the top of our monthly Cabinet League table in February 2022, in the immediate aftermath of Vladimir Putin’s invasion of western Ukraine. He stayed there for the best part of 18 months until his departure from Government. The former soldier was sped and sustained to the top of the table by war.
This month, James Cleverly finds himself in the same position (though he serves as a reserve officer, rather than as a professional soldier). The Foreign Secretary has been a visible media and online presence since Hamas attacked Israel on October 7. He is a slick media performer and rounded parliamentary presence.
Cleverly was a leadership contender in 2019, co-Chairman of the Conservative Party during Boris Johnson’s successful 2019 general election campaign, then a Foreign Office Minister of State, then Education Secretary during resignation-hit Johnson’s final government, and then Foreign Secretary under Liz Truss – in which post he continued to serve under Rishi Sunak.
In other words, the genial Cleverly is a survivor – and a long-time presence near the top of our table, where his support for engagement with China did him little harm. This result may stir interest in the Tory leadership betting markets where, in the event of a future contest, the Foreign Secretary would be a plausible “Stop X” candidate – that X being Kemi Badenoch, Penny Mordaunt, Suella Braverman or whoever.
Cleverly’s rating is up by the best part of 20 points – from 55 to 71.8. Kemi Badenoch may have fallen to second place, but at 67 points is marginally up from 65. Penny Mordaunt is third on 45.8. Last month she was in the same place on 53.2. No other member of the Cabinet has above that level of points.
Rishi Sunak’s ratings continue to bounce. Three months ago, he was mid-table, albeit on only 21 points. Two months, he was back in the red. Last month, in the wake of his Net Zero speech, he was up to 26 points and eighth in the table. This month, in our first survey since the Conservative Party Conference, he on 7.1 points and ninth from bottom.
Gillian Keegan and Michael Gove are out of negative ratings. No fewer than 19 members of the Cabinet have fewer than 20 points each. And six are in negative ratings: Mark Harper, Robert Jenrick, Andrew Mitchell, Greg Hands, Jeremy Hunt and Therese Coffey. Cleverly and Badenoch are the standout candidates in a low table.