James Cleverly faces backlash over Rwanda stance in Conservative grassroots survey

James Cleverly has fallen from first to eleventh from bottom in a ranking of cabinet ministers based on the surveyed views of Conservative Party members. 

The new home secretary, who replaced Suella Braverman in the post last month, had featured first when the survey was last conducted prior to the reshuffle. 

The ConservativeHome survey of party members for November 2023, however, places the once-celebrated foreign secretary eleventh from bottom with 10.6 points.

He is still some distance above prime minister Rishi Sunak who has fallen to his worst position in the ranking — last — in the wake of the latest survey. He has a negative 25.4 net satisfaction rating among the Conservative Party grassroots. 

James Cleverly, who boasted a net satisfaction rating of 72 points in the last survey, has faced a difficult in-tray as the new home secretary, made worse — in the eyes of Conservative members, it would seem — by his stance on the Rwanda plan. 

In his first interview in post with the Times newspaper, he labelled the Rwanda plan “not the be all and end all” after it was blocked by the Supreme Court. 

It comes as the government is soon expected to unveil emergency legislation which is aimed at ensuring deportation flights can go ahead, with a new treaty with Rwanda set to be signed as early as this week.

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It also follows release of new net migration statistics, which falls under his brief as home secretary. The figures, published last month, revised up previous estimates for net migration for 2022 from 606,000 to 745,000. The Office for National Statistics said in the year to June net migration fell back to 672,000.

Paul Goodman and Henry Hill, respectively Editor and Deputy Editor, of the ConservativeHome website, said: “James Cleverly, falls from first with 72 points to eleventh from bottom with 10.6 points.  

“It’s fair to say that whatever you think of the new Home Secretary’s performance since he was appointed, pleasing Conservative activists seems to have been just about the last thing on his mind, for better or worse”.

Elsewhere in the table, Lord Cameron, who has returned to frontline politics as Foreign Secretary, has a net score of minus 4.9.

“Some of this will be Leave-ish sentiment, some an unease about his record on China, some perhaps a memory of the Greensill saga”, ConservativeHome said.

Esther McVey, who has been dubbed the “minister for common sense” who oversees an “anti-woke” push in her Cabinet Office post, debuts in joint fourth place at 31.2.

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The most popular cabinet minister among the Conservative grassroots appears to be Kemi Badenoch, with 63.4 points.

Behind her in the ConservativeHome survey are leader of the House of Commons Penny Mordaunt, veterans minister Johnny Mercer and, then in fourth, Esther McVey.

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