Tory faithful back new shadow Cabinet

By Ian Dunt

Conservative party members have shown considerable support for the new-look shadow Cabinet.

The new front-bench team was revealed at midday yesterday by David Cameron, who reintroduced Ken Clarke as shadow business secretary, moved Dominic Grieve to a justice brief and replaced him with the hard working Chris Grayling.

Just over 1,000 party members voted in a survey conducted by ConservativeHome yesterday, and the results revealed considerable satisfaction with the changes.

Despite his popularity, Mr Clark also prompts considerable doubt among Eurosceptics, with 22 per cent of respondents expressing disappointment he had been reintroduced. This was down, however, from 41 per cent in December.

The former chancellor prompts concern and suspicion in the party because of his pro-European beliefs and rebellious parliamentary record.

Thirty-seven per cent said he would “block any moves towards more euroscepticism” and 39 per cent said he wouldn’t.

There was strong positive support for Mr Clarke, however, with 70 per cent saying they were pleased with his appointment.

Mr Grayling earned 65 per cent approval. Eric Pickles – taking over from Caroline Spelman as party chairman – earned a massive 77 per cent approval rating.

Mr Grayling and Mr Pickles are useful to the Tory leadership not least because of their accents – they appear noticeably less ‘toff-like’ than many others on the front bench.

Seventy-six per cent said the shadow Cabinet was now “punchier” while 75 per cent believed the economic policy team “is much strengthened”.

That will come as music to the ears of Conservative high command, who have seen opinion poll after opinion poll demonstrate less confidence in the Tories’ economic team than those of Labour or – often – the Lib Dems.