Picture by Simon Dawson / No 10 Downing Street

Kemi Badenoch insists PM not ‘under threat’ regardless of local elections outcome

Kemi Badenoch has insisted that the prime minister is not “under threat” from within his own party, and that he will remain safe regardless of how the Conservative Party performs at the local elections on Thursday. 

The business and trade secretary said that local elections tend to be “quite different” to general elections, but she was “expecting a good result”.

Pushed on what circumstances Rishi Sunak’s position as Conservative Party leader could be under threat, Badenoch told Sky News: “I don’t think the prime minister’s position is under threat”.

The cabinet minister, who has been tipped by some to succeed Sunak as Conservative Party leader, added that the PM has her “full backing”.

She said: “I think there’s a lot of noise that is being made by people who want to get attention but the prime minister has the full backing of the cabinet, he has my full backing.”

Asked if this would be the case no matter the outcome of the local elections, she replied: “I think that is right. It has been 14 years and quite often we see election results that are actually going to be quite different locally from what happens nationally.

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“I am expecting a good result, I am certainly going to be campaigning for a good result.”

Elections are taking place in 107 local authorities in England on Thursday, with more than 2,600 council seats and a further 10 mayoralties up for grabs.

Colin Rallings and Michael Thrasher, both local election gurus, recently wrote for the Local Government Chronicle that Sunak’s party could lose 500 seats if it repeats its poor 2023 local election performance, when its national vote share fell below 30 per cent.

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Speaking this morning, the business and trade secretary also hailed news that a failed asylum seeker has volunteered to go to Rwanda.

Badenoch told Times Radio: “The easiest cases will be the first ones. I do think that we should be trumpeting it because one of the big arguments about this scheme was that Rwanda was not a safe country and actually people are volunteering to go there.

“I know people who go there on holiday, lots of people have been and we need to get away from a lot of the myths about this African country which is actually a leader on the continent in terms of what it has been able to achieve both economically and around law and order as well.”

An unnamed migrant was flown out of the UK on Monday evening to Rwanda under a voluntary removal scheme which is separate to the government’s plan for enforced deportation. 

The man received £3,000 of support and the UK will also pick up the tab for five years of bed and board.

Josh Self is Editor of Politics.co.uk, follow him on X/Twitter here.

Politics.co.uk is the UK’s leading digital-only political website, providing comprehensive coverage of UK politics. Subscribe to our daily newsletter here.

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